Rules Were Made To Be Broken
The NYPD just announced that they're going to stop arresting people for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Of course that doesn't mean that they'll look the other way if you're caught with mass quantities or other more glaring offenses, but if you don't do anything crazy, no one will care.
It's in that same vein that some folks view bending the rules in a marathon. For instance, NYRR rules strictly prohibit transferring bibs in any of their races. But because of the cost, demand, and need to sign up so far in advance, it happens quite often in the NYC Marathon. Perhaps because their resources are better used on other offenses, NYRR doesn't seem to enforce the rules very often.
But just as with drug use sometimes the cheating is just too blatant and glaring to ignore.
At last week's NYC Marathon there were a couple of instances that seem to be obvious bib transfers. Take for instance, this 37-year old woman, who earlier this year just squeaked under 2-hours for a half marathon, yet last week was the 30th place woman, finishing in a swift 2:54. As one of our chief bandit catching detectives points out, she also manages to look remarkably like a young man who ran for the UNC track team and recently graduated from that fine institution before taking a job in the financial industry here in New York.
Not to be outdone in terms of physical transformations, the character pictured below is listed as a member of the Black Girls Run racing team and listed as a woman in the results.
Like transferring bibs, course cutting is frowned upon and prohibited in the rules. Still, that doesn't seem to stop some people from taking a shortcut from the Queensboro Bridge straight over to Central Park, rather than dealing with those pesky miles up 1st Avenue, into the Bronx, and all the way back to the Park. In most cases, the cheating is well timed and subtle enough that perhaps it goes unnoticed, as there are always some suspect results from runners who didn't register at the timing mats from Miles 16-25.But in some cases the course cutting is blatant and poorly executed.
Take one example from last week. We were stationed at our usual spot, just past Mile 21. I always say that I like watching from there because it's a spot where the runners need our support. But the truth is, it's also a spot where people generally look miserable, which prevents me from ever getting the bug to run another marathon. As we watched last week , at about 2:10 into the race, we couldn't help but notice one runner who stood out like a sore thumb. A big, dry-as-a-bone, fresh-as-a-daisy sore thumb. He stood out because not only did he look fresher than the others, but he much larger than the others, and while everyone else was cruising at about a 6:00/mile pace, this gentleman was shuffling at about half that speed. After a minute or so of arguing whether the guy with the two bad hips or one of the pregnant ladies in attendance should make note of his number, I finally limped up and caught him within a minute. I popped his number into the online tracker, and wouldn't you know it, he had somehow missed the first 20-miles worth of timing mats. I tracked him the rest of the way, and he crossed the finish line about an hour later. All these factors, coupled with the fact that he was removed from the official results that night lead me to the undeniable conclusion that he entered the course somewhere between miles 20 and 21, and jogged the rest of the way. Had he jumped in with other 11-minute milers perhaps his offense would have gone unnoticed, but this glaring case of cheating was pretty obvious. It's also noteworthy that (as pointed out by another member our intrepid crew of bandit catchers) this gentleman missed six of the eight timing mats at a different marathon earlier this year.
Lest you think that cheating is just a big city, big marathon phenomenon, check out the performance by Tabatha Hamilton, who "won" the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon on Saturday. She as credited with a time of 2:55:39, which included a second half of 55-minutes. Race officials seemed skeptical that she broke the half marathon world record (for men and women) during the second half of a marathon, and disqualified her. Had she been as good at math as she is at cheating, perhaps Ms. Hamilton would have been a little more subtle in her crime, and it would have gone undetected and unenforced. But for the racing equivalent of blowing pot smoke in a cop's face, Ms. Hamilton goes to race jail with the rest of crooks.