11 Ways to Cheat While Running a Marathon
For non-runners, 26.2 miles may seem like an unreasonable distance. These 11 runners agreed.
1. Do Not Run Most of It: Rosie Ruiz (Boston, 1980)
The name Rosie Ruiz is synonymous with marathon scandal. At the 1980 Boston Marathon, a relatively unknown Ruiz (above) crossed the finish line at 2 hours, 31 minutes and 56 seconds, making her the winning woman. But her lack of any sweat stains immediately raised suspicions. When male winner Bill Rodgers asked her about her splits, she had no idea what splits were. Then, two Harvard students came forward claiming to have witnessed her run out of the spectator section into the race only half a mile from the finish.
The nail in the coffin came from photographer Susan Morrow who recalled meeting Ruiz on the subway during the 1979 New York Marathon, a race Ruiz was not only “running” but also used to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Boston Marathon race officials ultimately struck her name from the records, and she was stripped of her title.
2. Get Someone Else to Run it for You: Xiamen Students (China, 2010)
Xiamen’s 2010 marathon gained international attention for rampant fraud.
Of the top 100 finishers, 30 marathoners were ultimately disqualified from this race in southern China. The fraudulent competitors were predominantly students who were hoping to earn extra points on their university entrance exams by finishing under 2:34:00. Some of the runners took cars, others sent in ringers to run in their place, while others handed off their time-recording devices to faster runners—some ran over the finish line carrying at least three chips.
3. Have Your Manager Give You a Ride: Fred Lorz (St. Louis, 1904)
At the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, Fred Lorz won the marathon with ease at 3 hours and 13 minutes. Shortly thereafter it was revealed he caught a ride for most of the race with his manager, and only resumed running when the car broke down. Lorz would claim it was a joke gone awry, but this didn’t stop the Olympics from banning him for life.
4. Skip Miles 13-23: Anthony Gaskell (London, 2010)
At the 2010 London Marathon, 69-year-old Anthony Gaskell smashed records when he crossed the finish line at 3:05:00. It was the fastest time on record for his 65+ age group. But upon closer analysis of his recorded statistics, it was discovered that Gaskell supposedly ran the second half of the race (13.1 miles) in less than an hour – an impossible feat for even a world champion. It turned out he forewent running the there-and-back portion of the course entirely, skipping miles 13 – 23. Gaskell would later claim he hurt himself and was simply trying to get to the finish to receive medical attention. Nonetheless, his honorary plaque and title were revoked.
5. Blow off the Checkpoints: Roberto Madrazo (Berlin, 2007)
Roberto Madrazo, 2006 Mexican Presidential hopeful, was no stranger to scandal; his Institutional Revolutionary Party had a reputation for election fraud. So it came as little surprise that his spectacular finishing time in the 2007 Berlin Marathon was a sham. Finishing at 2:41:12 initially won Madrazo his age group. However, the electronic chips runners wear to monitor their pace revealed he skipped two checkpoints – and “ran” nine miles in only 21 minutes. He was disqualified.
6. Grab a Bus: Rob Sloan (Kielder, 2011)
A member of the Sunderland Harrier running team, Rob Sloan bussed his way to a third place victory during the 2011 Kielder Marathon in England. Perhaps fed up with the rainy conditions, Sloan threw in the towel at mile 20 and hopped a bus to the finish line. He then hid behind a tree before rejoining the race. It didn’t help that the bus he hopped was a race spectator bus, and numerous witness accounts proved his undoing. After coming clean, Sloan was stripped of his medal, disqualified and is now facing investigation by UK Athletics.
7. Skip Ahead to the Part With the Prize Money: Martin Franklin (New York, 2001)
At the 2001 race, Franklin finished 19th overall and fifth for US Men, which entitled him to $4,750 in prize money. Website Letsrun.com identified Franklin as a cheat, and launched a crusade to not only have him disqualified but also thrown in jail. While he escaped arrest, he was forced to return the prize money.
8. Hop on a Bicycle: The Montreal Biker (2011)
The city of Montreal has bike stations all over the city. Pedestrians can rent a bike in one location and return it elsewhere. One runner decided to take advantage of this bike-sharing program in the middle of the 2011 Montreal Marathon, reportedly to get a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. He was caught red-handed in a photograph, and subsequently banned from the race for 3 years.
9. Hop in a News Van: Dane Patterson (Arizona, 2009)
After being voted off The Biggest Loser, Dane Patterson was shown in his epilogue finishing an Arizona marathon with his wife at an astonishing 3 hours and 53 minutes. Or at least that’s what NBC producers wanted people to believe. In reality, an exhausted Patterson got in a news van for three miles at mile 17 to ensure he'd finish in six hours, as per the show's request. Unlike the others on this list, Patterson did say he subsequently went back and ran the missing three miles.
10 (and 11). Split the Course With Your Brother (and Use PEDs): The Motsoeneng Brothers (South Africa, 1999)
The Comrades Marathon in South Africa is a 56-mile ultramarathon from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, and notoriously taxing. Sergio Motsoeneng placed ninth in the 1999 Comrades Marathon, but his celebration was short-lived. Sergio has a brother named Fika who bears a strong resemblance to him, and the two switched off during at least two points during the race. Their ruse was exposed when footage revealed the brothers wore watches on different wrists. After being banned from the race for 11 years, Sergio returned in 2010—only to be disqualified again for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.