This story ( in the news today reminded me of the day I was told point blank by another runner that he had cheated at a marathon.

There are some terrible things people can do in life. In running I would say cheating is one of the worst.

I was recently at a party and was introduced to a man who ran marathons. The host of the party thought we would get along great because we were both runners who had run Boston and Marine Corps Marathons. I instantly started chatting because I’d rather make small talk about running than small talk about other stuff. He asked how many times I had run Boston and how many times I had run Marine Corps? I said 2 times for Boston, 5 times for Marine Corps. He laughed and said yeah technically I’ve run Marine Corps 5 times too, so I can be in the Runner’s Club.

Technically I asked?

Yeah well once I gave my Bib number to someone else (ok I don’t like this but I’m not getting into the ethics of this now) and another time I just didn’t feel like running Haines Point so I just cut the course and finished.

Ummm excuse me?

My face was as white as a sheet. How on God’s green earth can you just decide to cut a marathon and then still have the nerve to run through the finishing chute and grab a medal. How do you not feel bad about it later and write the Marine Corps staff and tell them what you did and ask them to take you out of the results. How are you not so embarrassed by this story that you are telling it to a complete stranger.

Needless to say after that I didn’t have much else to say to this man. The silence got awkward and someone else walked up. I didn’t say anything to him as I slipped away from the conversation.

The place where I was at was not the place for me to confront this man, so I said nothing. But I can’t get it out of my head that people actually cheat at marathons. I wonder if his time was his BQ and if he was able to run Boston off of this cheated time? I’ll never know.

What would you do if you knew someone you knew or didn’t know – cheated in a marathon?


  1. DB – That is a CRAZY story. How could he do that? How, then, could he tell you about it? Unconscionable. I don't think I would have the restraint that you are showing – I would HAVE to know his name and I would HAVE to turn him in. I wouldn't be able to get over it. Classless…truly classless.

  2. theunpredictablejourney says:

    Whoa. I would feel the exact same way. I don't understand cheating then still having the nerve to finish the race. If you don't want to run it, fine, but don't cheat and then say you did it. I would be furious, upset and probably downright mystified.

  3. Ew! WHO DOES THAT?!? I don't think I'd do anything except for shame them a little. For most people a marathon is a personal challenge, and the only person you are cheating by cutting the course is yourself. Why would you be proud of that?!?

  4. I would be disappointed to hear that for sure. But I guess like many things in life – leave it between him and God.

    If it's something like a competitive sport and I missed placing (or missed my award) due to him, let's say in theory. Then I would be more tempted to report it, etc.

    I mean in many ways this cheating is like other forms of cheating in sports, like using steroids. And that type of cheating is reported and investigated. So why would this be any different?

  5. Teamarcia says:

    Wow. Shocking. How could he be anything less than completely embarrassed and ashamed of what he did? I wonder how common this is?

  6. Stephanie Anne says:

    That is unbelievable that he cheated, then went on to brag about it! At one of my tris this summer, a girl cheated by skipping through laps on the run. I was so pissed!! No matter how badly I want to finish, I could never cheat!

  7. Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal says:

    The part that made me want to turn him in is because he said he had run Boston and I wondered if his faster time from his *shortcut* had allowed him to BQ and that is why he had the nerve to finish despite not having run the whole race. Otherwise like you said Holly I would leave it between him and God :)

  8. says:

    WOW! That's just disgusting! What a jerk. And he was just openly talking about it to a stranger / fellow runner at a party? And how did other runners during MCM not call him out when they saw him cut Hains Point?!

    If he got his BQ time from cheating I think he should be banned from ALL races in the future.

  9. Kerrie T. says:

    WHAT?! I don't understand this mentality at all. I bet people do it more than we know, though. Why run the marathon if you're going to cheat? Just don't run or run something else you don't have to cheat at. Ugh. It disgusts me.

  10. ~* Jenn *~ says:

    When I did the Warrior Dash in August, two guys behind me cut the course short by ducking under ropes. It probably only saved them less than half a mile of a 3.1 mile race – but it was definitely frustrating to see!

  11. What a slap in the face for everyone who puts in an actual effort! If I saw them do it I'd totally turn them in to race officials – even if I knew them. If you can't run it, just admit it.

  12. Shellyrm ~ just a country runner says:

    He, probably not having been racing to "win" the marathon, only hurt himself. What a fragle human being he must be to need to build such a big ego with such weak building blocks.

    Reporting him? I probably wouldn't have either given the situation. Kind of he said she said if it came down to it.

  13. Rachel McPhillips says:

    That is terrible. Who would admit that?!!? Nevermind do it! Trust me.. IF I EVER decide to run a full, I'll be darn sure to run the whole thing!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Which is the bigger sin … cheating or stealing? Admittedly, I still rip race photos if I can, but some people are appalled that I do. I'm trying not to be too judgmental these days, but it's been a long uphill slog!

  15. But really, if you think about it.. the main person he cheated was himself.

  16. omg I would have been *livid* if I'd been there. This coming MCM is my first marathon, and I am slooooooooow. Like, to the point that I might get swept at the Gauntlet, at which point apparently you can finish anyway? But if that happened, I wouldn't take a medal at the end. And I wouldn't put my new 26.2 sticker on my car. And and and. Respect the distance, people! I can't believe he had the verve to say that to a fellow runner.

  17. says:

    disgusting. and he apparently has no shame either. i just hope he didn't BQ and take a BM spot that should have went to someone who actually BQ'd.

  18. Jerilee E. says:

    Wow! I would be so embarrassed to admit something like that! Not that I would ever even consider doing such a thing. Why would you sign up and train for something just to cheat? I really don't et it.

  19. I've actually witnessed the opposite situation. A few years ago at a 50k trail race, the 2nd place woman accused the 1st place woman of cheating. Knowing the trail and knowing the woman, I know that it was impossible for her to have done what was described – but unfortunately not everyone knew this. The ultrarunning community is very small, and as such, there are still people that call her a cheater. It absolutely breaks my heart that one woman's own insecurity about "losing" caused someone else so much grief and embarrassment. Insane, right?

  20. UNBELIEVABLE!!! I would feel guilty the rest of my life!

  21. Sad. Either do it or don't do it, there is no "technically" finishing. People do very bizarre things & somehow justify it to themselves though. I agree, I hope he didn't take someone's rightful BM spot by cheating.

  22. says:

    I even consider cutting corners in a race cheating. It's not fair that I stick to the course and other people cut the corner because they think the course is clogged. But I'd never tell on someone, just be really mad/taken aback that they did it or admit to it. Things like that guy did probably happen more often than we'd like to think to.

  23. I would have called him out right then and there. There's something truly special about finishing a marathon and he's doing a discredit to the sport by thinking it's cool to cut the course.

  24. I think I would have been in total shock hearing someone say that to me. Honestly I cant even fathom the idea of it really. Who does that? Excuse my language, but who has the balls to even divulge something like that to another runner? That is so offensive, it like goes against runner code! Ugh that makes me so mad, and its unfortunate that you had to have such an encounter.

  25. Running Moose says:

    That's just horrible. Plus the fact that he can tell another runner he just met! In a situation like that, I wouldn't report it either (I think), but I would walk away from him and move on with the rest of my night. If I saw it happen at a marathon (or any other race) I would say something. Ultimately, he has to live with his thoughts. Maybe telling people helps him feel better about it.

  26. Is there any chance he was just putting you on to get a reaction out of you?

    At any rate, he has to live with himself and if he can, then I wouldn't bother giving him another thought.

    Confronting him won't change him. He knows what he is.

  27. Racingtales - Alison Gittelman says:

    That's sad on so many levels because he's cheating everyone else out of their race placing and he's cheating himself…but clearly has no scruples if he's bragging about it.

    Apparently it used to be fairly common for people in the London Marathon to hop on the tube for part of the race…I think having chip timing mats along the course these days has prevented some of that.

    Anyway, congrats to YOU on your fabulous time at Columbus!

  28. Gracie (Complicated Day) says:

    Was he drunk?! Making things up?! Who cuts a marathon? Isn't finishing kind of the whole point?
    I doubt I'd do anything at this point in the game – especially with nothing but his word to stand on – but if I actually observed cheating? Hard to say. I'd probably try to report it. I did report a guy who forcefully knocked a kid over in a race once; it was mean and rude and he deserved the tattling!

  29. I think cheating in any sporting event is awful and completely unacceptable. Since I am a runner, I guess I take more offense if it occurs in a race. Last year I ran in a 5K with my 6 year-old daughter. I was 6 months pregnant at the time so we weren't going for any personal records. We were jogging the whole race at a steady pace and about halfway through the race I noticed a woman I knew cut through a side street. I assumed she was just going to find her kids but it turns out she was cutting off one of the miles. Then she happily accepted her award for "finishing" around 27 minutes. It made me mad and really bothered me. I know it was just a local 5K but seriously- who CHEATS in a race and accepts a medal?! How can you live with yourself? I never did confront this person about it but I sure did lose A LOT of respect for them.

    Cheating in a marathon is obviously a different ball game. Especially if qualifying for Boston is involved! How sad that there are people out there who think doing things like that are ok?

  30. thethinksicanthink says:

    I think that's awful. Isn't the point to know you did your very best and that you completed something amazing?

    On a side note, my friends and I think we know someone who cheated in the Philly marathon in 2010. She used to run with our running club. She consistently ran 3:55-3:58 marathons then suddenly ran 3:31 – with a 2:03 first half. I know someone can improve, but its skeptical. She also doesn't have a 30K split, making us think she turned around in the out and back part of the course. The worst part about it is, she got into Boston this year, taking away a spot from someone who rightfully deserved it. It sickens me to think about it.

    Of course, I'd love to run the Boston mrathon, but not enough to cheat. Plus, I'd want the satisfaction of knowing I actually did it myself!

  31. Jessica (Pace of Me) says:

    wow. i am pretty much speechless reading this one. some people!!! i am completely irritated by this person. his attitude makes zero sense to me and makes me feel sick inside. ugh!!!!!

  32. Well I don't run marathons, in fact I haven't ran in a while.
    I don't think I would care if I found out someone cheated at a marathon. Maybe I say that because I am not involved in that world, but I see marathons as a personal achievement… if you cheat in the marathon, then you kind of cheated yourself, right?
    I do practice Bikram yoga a lot, and recently I heard teachers saying that they caught practitioners 'cheating' in some postures, as in, they don't actually do the posture, they find a way to make it look like they are doing it. Well I don't get it: I wouldn't get my ass in the hot room for 90 minutes to 'pretend' in a posture… I would be just wasting my own time.

  33. Running With Charlene says:

    I would turn them in – and stir the trouble. They give the sport a bad name. It's truly a crime – they are STEALING from what others have paid for.

  34. misszippy says:

    Wow. My jaw would have hit the floor! Crazy that he almost seems proud of it!

    I had an awkward situation like this years ago at an IM. A girl I knew quite obviously did only one loop on the swim, based on her time and what I knew her capable of. She went on to crash on her bike. I kind of felt that karma came and got her with that. I also knew she was terrified of the swim, so I had some sympathy for her. I also liked her as a person otherwise. All this combined made me not want to say anything to officials about it. Two others, however, did indeed turn her in and she received a two-yr. ban from USAT events. The whole thing was ugly on so many levels. I guess the bottom line is that the cheater has to look themselves in the mirror and live with it. Can't be easy.

  35. Paul Molnar says:

    I can't imagine why someone would do it but I have always preferred the idea of losing to cheating. I would absolutely turn someone in if I ended up in this kind of situation. Cheating like that steals from everyone else in the race.

  36. I have no idea. I just can't fathom cheating because you really are cheating yourself. That dude cannot possibly be proud of himself. It's hard to say if you should turn him in or not. I believe you reap what you sow therefore he will reap the consequences of it one day.

  37. hey Dorothy, did you notice during MCM that they had at least two – if not three – timing mats out on Hains Point? I have no idea whether that was new this year or not, but I assume not, so perhaps you can rest assured that the dude's BQ was not from the year he cut Hains Point during MCM. :)

  38. I mean whats the point, we do these things to challenge ourselves, to see where our limits are, to cheat a course would be pointless, the people I know who are endurance athletes face up to the challenge, push to the end and then take up the next one and push farther and harder. I just cant even understand why he would do that and then to talk about it like its the norm.

  39. 5 years later and cheating is more rampant than ever. :-(

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