Ways that runners cheat in marathon races

Cheating in marathon races happen more often nowadays. Especially with so many marathons taking place, this is becoming a more frequent problem in marathons all over the world.

How do people cheat at marathon races?

How do people cheat at marathon races?

People may cheat at marathon races for a variety of reasons. For some, it is to qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon. For others, it is to be able to bask in the glory and boast to others that they have actually run a marathon, which is considered as one of the most punishing physical tasks that a person can subject his or her body to.

But what are the various types of ways that people commonly cheat in marathon races? Here are a few.

Cutting course short

Some marathon cheats may cut a course short, especially if a large portion of the course happens to be a loop. In the StanChart Marathon Singapore, for instance, there is a large 20km section of the Full Marathon route that is a loop – and thus may be easy for many cheats to plan their attack.

Alternatively, if marathon cheats know the side streets or are familiar with the city’s transport systems, they can utilize these in order to intentionally cut short a marathon.

In fact, just last year, there was a high profile case of this taking place in the StanChart Singapore Marathon, when pastry chef Tam Chua Puh ran only 6km out of the 42km marathon, because he had taken a shortcut, and ended up “winning” the marathon by being the first Singaporean to cross the finishing line. Though he had never intended to win, his intent to cheat during the race, had created a two-hour headache for the race officials, as they scrambled to find out more about him. In the end, he was disqualified.

These marathon cheats may be quite easy to spot because they look relatively fresh and do not have tired legs, while everyone else is suffering in pain and agony. As well, they might also be strolling at a slow pace of about 15 minutes per kilometre, as though the marathon is simply a walk in the park for them.

Running only the last part of the race

Besides cutting short a course, marathon cheats may fail to turn up at the starting line, and only run the last few kilometres of the marathon.

These marathon cheats may be also quite easy to spot along the marathon route again, because while everyone else is in pain and agony, they may just be casually strolling along and not appearing to be in any sort of discomfort at all.

Impersonating someone else

If there is the intent to win prize money, then this can also become a major problem at marathon races. People may intentionally ask a much faster and more capable runner to impersonate them, so that they can bask in the glory of finishing the race on the podium, or if they have an intention to qualify for Boston.

It happened during the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore in 2012, when it was discovered that the female second-placed winner in the Local Women’s category, Josephine Wang, had not run with her bib. Instead, someone else had run with this bib. As a result, she had been disqualified from the marathon and the third-placed runner was promoted.

As well, impersonation can also take place when runners intentionally switch places, that is halfway during the marathon, by exchanging bibs, for instance. This usually happens for runners who may have plans to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but they know that their training would not be sufficient for them to get in.

It may be slightly harder to spot these cheats, as you will have to look at their bib numbers. However, if you notice something strange along the route for example, a man running with a woman’s bib, this may be a sign of a marathon race impersonator.

Cheating is bad

However, cheating is should be discouraged in marathon races. This is a very challenging run, so runners should be ready for it both mentally and physically. As much as they want that marathon finisher tee and medal, cheating should never be the way to go about it.

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