Runner’s World and race-results watchdogs are reporting that at least 47 runners cheated to get a bib to run the 2015 Boston Marathon. The Boston Marathon is the most prestigious marathon in the United States and is known by runners the world over for its brutal qualification requirements. Boston Qualifiers earn a bib by running fast times or by raising large sums of money for charity.
So far, 47 runners are accused of course cutting, bib swapping or paying other runners to qualify for them. The investigation was spearheaded by Derek Murphy and started by identifying runners who ran the 2015 Boston Marathon 20 minutes slower than their qualifying time. The 2015 field consisted of approximately 27,000 runners and 2,439 had the misfortune of drawing Murphy’s gaze.
Murphy and his team cross-searched the flagged names looking for race photos on MarathonFoto.com and previously published times on MarathonGuide.com and Athlinks. The group has gone through approximately 1400 names and, so far, 47 seem to have cheated their way into the Boston Marathon.
Murphy believes, 29 runners bought Boston bibs from people who actually qualified, 10 appear to have cut the course of their qualifying race, four used bib mules (paid faster runners to qualify for them), and four seem to have falsified race results. Two of the accused operate running blogs.
I think the major motivation for cheaters is internet fame. The desire to announce on social media that they accomplished a feat few runners could do. It’s despicable, dishonorable and I have little pity or tolerance to those who apologize after being exposed. I’ll go on the record saying it would be nothing short of a miracle if I qualified for Boston in my current age group. If I manage to qualify in the next five years I will gladly provide mountains of evidence and guidance so others can follow in my footsteps.
The 2016 Boston Marathon will take place Monday, April 18th. It’s broadcast live on television in the United States and it really is worth the watch. The effortless stride of elite runners is magnificent to behold and hardly betrays the fact that they are running 26 x five minute miles . To become elite in this sport requires a decade of training and the achievement goes largely unnoticed outside of the running community. I tip my hat to the elites and all those who legitimately qualified.
Cheaters spoil every avenue of athletic accomplishment, but don’t let the cowardice of a select few tarnish the dedication and hard work of the thousands of runners who truly achieve a BQ. I’ll be tuning in on Monday and I pray everyone running is blessed with light feet and a stiff tailwind.