Monday, April 20, 2015

You can't outrun the lie.......

Kendall Schler was the first to cross the finish line on April 12 2015 during the running of the Go! St Louis Marathon in St Louis MO.  She was awarded a medal, $1,500 and a picture at the finish line with Jackie Joyner Kersee.  Schler had placed third in the same marathon last year and her times had earned a coveted invitation to run in the Boston marathon this year.

Race officials had figured out by April 15th, that Schler had not won the race.  In fact, they could find no proof that she had done anything more than start the race and then show up at the finish line.  They stripped her of her win as well as the time from the previous year and awarded the win to Andrea Karl who they had placed as second when the race had ended.  She has also been banned from competing in any future Go! St Louis events and the Boston Marathon has rescinded their invitation.

The officials now believe that Schler was at the start line and then immediately left the course to return after the last checkpoint to finish with the win.  The start and finish of the marathon are within three blocks of each other so she had to have found somewhere to hang out for the two plus hours for the win.

Schler can be seen running up towards the finish line but her racing bib is no where to be seen.  She had attached it to the back of her shorts and had removed the timing chip, both violations of the race rules.  She did not give a reason as to why she did this but it is obvious that she was able to avoid the electronic checks by removing it.  Schler admitted that she had done that as well the previous year and officials could find no photos of her during the race that year either.  The officials also stated that she was not very defensive about them questioning her winning of the race, which they found a bit strange.

The video of Schler winning the race shows that she was not all that pleased that she had won.  She may have planned to slip in and gain another second or third place and escape the scrutiny that came with winning this year.  What she did do is steal the attention from the true winner this year, Andrea Karl, who finished in a time of 2:54:28.  The race officials were more than fair though by offering to allow Schler to keep the placings if she could produce photographic evidence that she had run the entire race, even though she had admitted tampering with the race bibs.  In the end though, she will go down in history as another marathon cheater.

Probably the most famous cheater in recent times is Rosie Ruiz who "won" the 1980 Boston marathon only a few years after women were allowed to compete.  She won the race with a time of 2:31:56 which at the time was the fastest ever run by a woman in the Boston marathon and the third fastest in the world.  Suspicion soon was raised from the comments she made in her after race interviews and her lack of knowledge in basic training methods.  It had also been noticed that she did not look as though she had the build of a long distance runner nor was she showing the common signs of running such a long distance.

Ruiz's time was a whopping 25 minutes faster than her time in the New York Marathon about six months before and that finish was also called into question.  They could find no evidence of her actually running the whole race but they did find a photographer who stated that she had ridden the subway with Ruiz towards the finish line.  Ruiz claimed to be an injured runner but when she got to the finish line area, she stated that she was injured and managed to clock a finish time.

Ruiz was disqualified from the win and Jacqueline Gareau, who had the fastest time ever for a woman at 2:34:28 was awarded the win.  Officials did go to great lengths to make sure that Gareau was properly awarded the win and had her stay for a recreation of the race finish and receiving her award at the official press conference.

In 2012, Rob Sloan of Washington, Tyne and Wear, was disqualified from a half marathon after he had entered the race under a friend's name and ran most of the race wearing sunglasses.  He had already been banned from several races after he had been caught cheating the year before.

He finished third in the Kielder Marathon that year but had been spotted getting onto a bus around the 20 mile mark of the race and exiting in time to run across the finish line in third place.  His excuse for running under another name was that he did not want the press bothering him before or after the race.  He could now be banned from running as well as the friend whose name he used to register with.

In 2014, Jason Scotland Williams finished the London Marathon in a time of 3:08:47 which put him in 2,162nd place and solidly among the top six percent of the elite runners.  His race has been called into question because that time is a huge improvement over his time in 2013 of seven hours and twenty four minutes.  Not only that, the first half of the race his times clocked him in as a fairly normal two hours and seven minutes.  The second half of the race he finished in a blistering one hour and one minute that puts his second half of the marathon only three minutes slower than the world record for a half marathon.

Witnesses have stated that they saw Jason squeezing between a barrier after the Tower Bridge and disappear off course.  That point of the race is where the 13 mile marker and the 22 mile marker are very close and most have speculated that he shortened his marathon run in order to gain the finish time that he did.

Jason has publically stated that he did nothing wrong and that he did not cheat but it is difficult to look at his recorded times and not wonder how he was that fast for the second half of a marathon.

Probably the most brazen cheater was Kip Litton, a Michigan dentist who spent a couple of years running marathons and then suddenly vaulted into the elite class of runners.  He ran in the masters class because he was over 40 years old and pushed the fact that he was running for the benefit of Cystic Fibrosis.  He had set up his own website to collect donations as well as tout his marathon feats called which posted his links for donations and his race results.  His aim was to raise money as well as run sub 3 hour marathons in each of the 50 states.

His downfall began in 2009 and is very well documented in a New Yorker article published in 2012.  Litton was found to have cut the races that he ran in, many times there was no record of him except at the start and of course, for the finish.  He was found to be starting near the ends of the pack most times so that he would have had to make up incredible amounts of race time yet runners do not remember him ever passing them.

After an intense investigation, it was found that not only were his times incredibly fast but that he would begin a race in one outfit and finish sometimes in a completely different one.  It is not unheard of for a runner to change during a race but it takes valuable time to change everything, including your running shoes.  The investigation also found that the links for the donations did not send the money to charity as he claimed.  People were instructed to make the checks payable to his website or to donate straight through a paypal account.  The charities have stated that they did not receive any money from Litton's fundraising.

The most brazen cheat that he had attempted to pull off was the creation of an entirely fake marathon, the West Wyoming Marathon.  He had created the event himself, it never took place and he still added it to his online list of sub 3 hour wins.  Litton had gone to such lengths as to create a website for it, name a fictitious staff and added dozens of fake runners for his win there.  No one is quite sure what drove Litton to cheat as well as the others who have done so in marathons.  What it does do is cheat those people who have trained hard to legitimately run and finish a race out of their personal piece of glory.


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