Running Cheaters: Their Amazing Race

Rosie Ruiz, the first globally publicized marathon cheater

Despite the hostility and abomination the majority of runners feel about runners who cheat during marathons, this shameful act is still prevalent that bring with them an honorary lifetime of curse and contempt. Running–or running a long distance race like a marathon or ultramarathon is supposed to be a pure, honest sport where patience, sacrifice, courage, solitude, victory and defeat are components of what this sport is about–an honest assessment of oneself.

Yet, this noblest of sports is robbed of its purity when some cheapie runners succumb to temptation and flaunt it without shame. I was a bit sad when i heard that last Sunday’s Tagaytay To Kawit 50k Ultramarathon was marred by a few cheaters, making this new ultramarathon race another breeding ground for these pests to lay their eggs on.

Unbelievable that some of these runners were brazen enough to cross the finish line when they were seen being dropped-off at a point near the finish from a vehicle and sheepishly continued their run.

The start of the T2K 50 K Ultra Marathon (Photo by Tong Pascua)

Too, some Milo Marathons in the past and even the BDM 102km Ultramarathon which is supposed to be the foremost ultra race here was not spared by these cheats. All the tricks in the books have been employed and here are some of the methods used by these charlatans:

1.  Taking a lift from a vehicle (usually their own support vehicle) when no one is watching to take them nearer the finish line.

2.  Riding in a bus, taxi, jeepney, tricycle, motorcycle or other public transportation after taking off their race bib nos. or putting on another shirt to conceal it and getting off near the finish, replacing their bibs and continuing their run.

3.  Taking short-cuts, applying trick no. 2, pretending to jog by their lonesome (oblivious to their surroundings) then joining the race again after the short-cut has been made.

4.  Stepping off the course, hiding in a building or gas station or making a stop-over at a fastfood joint to eat while killing time to re-join when runners have come back from the turn-around point.

5.  Stopping at a designated place then taking off their official bib or timing chip and giving it to a faster runner to officially record their progress along the course.

6.  Have another impostor run on your behalf or make him run the first 42k and hand back the identification back to you so you could finish the last 195 meters!

7.  Scanning an original race bib and making a counterfeit bib out of it with exact size, text and color giving the semblance that you are officially registered and therefore running the race legally! (I’ve witnessed this personally being fabricated on a Photocopy shop near POEA. The race was for a Runrio event!)

These are some of the scam i have witnessed personally and heard from co-runners and if you have other more to add, please do so. Race Directors should have the option of either exposing these cheats publicly if they are confident that cheating has occured or informing them privately that they are being banned from their future races.

Distance running and bus riding do not mix—unless you are competing in the “Amazing Race”!


10 responses to “Running Cheaters: Their Amazing Race

  1. This is quite disheartening to read. It prompts me to ask, “what for?” Is it solely for bragging rights? But, doesn’t it take a twisted sense of self-worth to brag about something one did not actually achieve?

    Couldn’t there be ways for race directors and organizers to address the methods of trickery you’ve enumerated? For 1, 2, 3, 4 and to a certain extent 5: couldn’t discrepancies in pace, distance, and route covered be monitored through the chips runners are required to wear in major races? 6 might be dealt with if there are enough marshals around, but 7 is indeed a trickier thing to address.

    I really hope this wouldn’t go by unresolved because as you wrote, it taints our sport. In this country where fairness and good conscience tend to go missing in public spheres (i.e.: politics), it’s sad that an activity that shouldn’t be politicized is starting to be affected by the very same problems that plague the rest of the society.

    • I agree with you, R! To some extent, those points you mentioned can be controlled in races using timing chips specifically marathons and the shorter distances. It’s a different ball game when it comes to ultras, where timing chips aren’t used and RDs rely more on the honesty of runners.

      The runner was caught and later admitted his wrongdoing. He has now been banned for a year by the race’s organizer and other RDs as well. Hope this serves as a lesson for those who intend to do his “amazing race”!

    • Freeloaders in any race is wrong. It’s thievery and it’s not fair to those who organized the race and to those runners who paid!

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