I’ve been thinking about this post for a while and wasn’t sure how to approach it without giving out ideas. But last night, while surfing my usual social media pages, I came across a how-to guide for cheating the WDW Marathon course. I was astonished and outraged when I saw it. There are runners that actually put time and effort into cheating! It’s truly unbelievable to me. I would share the map on my blog– that pointed to the short cuts and how many miles you’d skip– but I thought that it would only spread the word.
I want to think this is an isolated incident, but sadly it isn’t. So where has the integrity of running gone? As a casual racer, I always compete against myself and my own PR’s. But there are runners who are hungry for attention, unearned awards and unlawful bibs. The more I think about it, the more I realize how terrible cheating has become in running.
Rosie Ruiz was the first documented cheater in running history. She won the female category for Boston Marathon in 1980, until they discovered she didn’t run the entire course and she was stripped of her titles (read about her here). Maybe she gave everyone the idea? Or was she was just the first one brave enough to try? Earlier this year, a woman was disqualified for Boston Marathon after cheating in St. Louis where she “qualified” (read about that here). Cutting courses seems to be a popular cheat amongst runners who are attempting difficult feats of athleticism. But it takes away from the runners who work their A**’S off and actually do it.
Then we’ve got the runners who don’t pay for their bibs. These bib bandits selfishly copy bibs and wear them for the race, like they’ve paid for it. They take all of the course benefits that the rest of us have paid for: the water, any post race snacks and the bling. My friend, Amy from Mom’s Magical Miles, wrote a witty piece about Georgia Marathon bandit (here). This girl makes me sick. She ran the Georgia Marathon and then proceeded to brag about it across social media. I have to work just as hard to pay for my races as I have to train for them! I want to run beside runners who aren’t thieves. It should be criminal act, like shop lifting.
Lastly, runners will pay for somebody else to run with their bib so they can receive a better qualifying time for a race. This means that TWO runners have to be dishonest! The faster runner who is helping AND the cheater. This isn’t doing anybody a favor and can actually be dangerous on race day. Race directors work hard to ensure the safety of the race participants. If you don’t belong in “Corral A”, but you cheated your way in, don’t be mad when your trampled by the faster runners. Just like the medals, I want to earn my corral or starting wave. Last Summer, I ran my heart out so I could finish a 10k in under 60 minutes and get into a better corral time for the WDW Half Marathon in January 2015. But as I was running on race day, I passed runners who clearly could not run a 10k in under 60 minutes. Do you think I’m judging? I passed a runner with an oxygen tank and walker. I’m sorry, but he clearly started in the wrong corral and it was unsafe for him and us. Everybody should be allowed to race, but please start in your appropriate corral.
I love the sport of running. I just never thought there would be so many ways for runners to cheat. Fortunately, these incidents of cheating are by a small percentage of runners. I believe we can be honest runners and help each other. If you know of a race bandit– report them. If you saw somebody cut the course– remember that you are better than them and you deserve your medal. Does somebody want to pay you to run with their bib? Don’t do it! Let’s bring integrity back to the sport of running and be honest runners. It’s not that hard, people.