Those Who Cheat In Marathon Races

He cheated in this year’s Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore and briefly became the Singaporean “winner” of the race as a result. But in an interview with The Straits Times today, “unofficial Singaporean winner” Tam Chua Puh, 43 revealed that he had never intended to claim the $10,000 prize.

In fact, the pastry chef told The Straits Times that all he had wanted was the finisher’s tee shirt and medal, which is presented to those who are able to complete the 42km race. But unwittingly, he had created a whole lot of problems in the process, when he “beat” top local runner Mok Ying Ren – due to his cheating.

As a result of getting his few minutes of glory, Tam now has to live with shame and embarrassment for his actions. I wonder now, whether he will think twice before he enters the Standard Chartered Marathon again next year just to get the finisher’s tee and medal.

Tam may have gotten his moment of glory, but unlike him, these runners will feel true satisfaction when they complete the race.

Tam may have gotten his moment of glory, but unlike him, these runners will feel true satisfaction when they complete the race

Why people cheat

But why do people such as Tam enter marathon races and cheat in the first place? Sure, they may have their reasons for doing so. To some, they only care about getting their hands on the finisher tee shirt and medal, so that they can claim to have run the marathon when they wear their finisher tee shirt in public.

To others, cheating in such marathon races may just be a way to boost their sunken egos so that they can show off to friends about their false achievements. Maybe they are just low in confidence and are desperate for something to make others be awed by their “marathon achievement.”

Cheaters are not true marathoners

Despite what others may think about them, these people will know within themselves, that they are not marathoners. They may have done a little running to “prepare” themselves for the marathon and at least show that they can run some distance. But by cheating, they will never know the true feeling of ecstasy and sheer accomplishment of actually finishing a marathon honestly and with integrity.

In Tam’s case, he told the Straits Times that he had pulled out of the marathon after six kilometers because he was having knee pains. But he still wanted to get the finisher’s tee and medal. Yet many other marathon runners have braved on and continued to finish the race even though they may have suffered knee, leg and other pains.

Case in point: In the 1968 Olympic Marathon in Mexico City, Tanzanian marathoner John Stephen Akhwari showed true human grit and perseverance – and received a thunderous applause from the audience who were still in the stands. He didn’t win the race. In fact, he had come last. But then why were the audience clapping and cheering for him? Because during the race, Akhwari had dislocated his knee joint and also hurt his shoulder. Yet he still showed true human determination to actually finish the marathon. Now that is what I call possessing the true spirit of the marathon.

Pushing on with grit and determination, despite the pain.

Pushing on with grit and determination, despite the pain.

I saw this too when I was undertaking the 42km race last Sunday – many people were in intense pain and suffering badly, but whether it was through running or walking, they still bravely soldiered on to complete the distance.

But I suppose that some people just don’t have that sense of determination. They want the rewards and satisfaction – but without the suffering. Tam is probably one such person. And they are the ones who do injustice to the marathon race.

Integrity issues

What use would it be, for such people to possess the marathon finisher’s tee and medal that you have not actually worked hard for? By cheating, can you really feel the same sense of pride and achievement as felt by those who actually do complete the marathon out of sheer grit and determination?

As long as I can still walk, I will keep on going. But if I suffer a really bad injury that renders me unable to even walk, I would rather pull out and not receive the finisher’s medal and tee, instead of taking shortcuts and cheating my way through – to get it. I haven’t earned it, so what right do I have to lay my claim onto it?

But I suppose that some people don’t have integrity or pride, and for them, I have nothing to say. I can only hope, for their sake, that they will see the light of their cheating actions and turn over a new leaf in the future.

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