Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your midst!!

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Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your midst!!

Postby canalrunner » Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:15 pm

From Boston Dad to Canadian triathlete Judy Miller the stories of cheating keep piling up. Perhaps the numbers are small, However along with pathetic stories of the Boston Dads who seek sad recognition for something they don't deserve or the Judy Millers who seek a medal that they don't deserve, there are also a number of people who didn't get to go to Boston and live their dream, because others decided their presence was more important so they cheated. Sadly their stories don't get told.

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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby scrumhalfgirl » Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:24 pm

The cheating doesn't surprise me one bit, but the fact that there's a guy digging this stuff up every night kind of does. And I kind of love it.
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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby ian » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:12 pm

Interesting... I'm curious about whether (or how often) these vigilantes have had "false positives", wherein they have outed what seemed like a probable cheater who in fact had come by a time honestly. Thinking a decade back, I ran a 3:10 BQ somewhat out of the blue (at least as far as other recent race results were concerned) and then was 3:41 the next year at Boston. This 31 minute increase would have had me flagged as suspicious and I don't think my BQ race had enough/any pictures & timing mats with which to analyze my splits. Once outed, how would someone go about proving that they didn't cheat?

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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby Robinandamelia » Thu Apr 14, 2016 6:32 am

I know that some races are now hiring companies/people (may even be this guy) to review their stats/results after a race. I read an article about it somewhere a while back. Some races are more prone to "cheats" it seems. Crazy that it's come to this. Some of these ideas I would never have even thought of myself....crazy.

The one thing that struck out is him reviewing the times at Boston and comparing them to qualifying or other races. My Bostons are my two slowest marathon. So if you compared my results there to any other marathons there's a difference and I don't cheat. I just don't run as well at Boston

In the article there is a link to the guy's blog...more detail and three actual cases listed...interesting. The husband and wife one is crazy!

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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby canalrunner » Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:20 am

ian wrote:Interesting... I'm curious about whether (or how often) these vigilantes have had "false positives", wherein they have outed what seemed like a probable cheater who in fact had come by a time honestly. Thinking a decade back, I ran a 3:10 BQ somewhat out of the blue (at least as far as other recent race results were concerned) and then was 3:41 the next year at Boston. This 31 minute increase would have had me flagged as suspicious and I don't think my BQ race had enough/any pictures & timing mats with which to analyze my splits. Once outed, how would someone go about proving that they didn't cheat?


I am suspicious that feel you may be suspicious. :D I had the same reaction. I ran one Boston in storm(2007) and one in a heat wave (2012) so had healthy time gaps. The way I read it is that they use the time gap as a first screening, then they dig further. If all your 10k, half marathon or marathon times don't make sense in comparison to the BQ, then you are put on a smaller list. Then more digging. I keep thinking of Boston Dad whose BQ time was consistent with his normal 5k pace, and all his other marathon times were a lot slower. I imagine in your running record, you would have had 5k times under 20 minutes, 10k times around 40 minutes, and half marathon times around 1:30 that would have given context to the 3:10. If not, Senator Joseph McCarthy wants to speak to you.

I hope the final list is done carefully and is underreporting, because once on the "out" list, it would be hard to convince folks that you aren't suspicious.
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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby ian » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:03 am

canalrunner wrote:I hope the final list is done carefully and is underreporting, because once on the "out" list, it would be hard to convince folks that you aren't suspicious.

That's my main point. The onus should never be on the athlete to "prove" honesty (over and above the measures taken by the race itself) and if even one person ends up being falsely accused by some horde of internet vigilantes, leaving a permanent digital footprint, it would undo much of the goodwill from having outed scores of real cheaters.

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Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your midst!!

Postby RobW » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:16 am

Robinandamelia wrote:The one thing that struck out is him reviewing the times at Boston and comparing them to qualifying or other races. My Bostons are my two slowest marathon. So if you compared my results there to any other marathons there's a difference and I don't cheat. I just don't run as well at Boston

You'll likely be in the first list but his final list isn't how you did in Boston. If you're qualifying race lines up with your shorter distances you would be excluded.

I was surprised his final list contains less than a hundred.


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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby canalrunner » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:29 pm

Maybe they could introduce spot checks in Hopkinton, there is a lot of time hanging around at the school. Run the numbers. Spot the bibs. Laptop computer, flashlight, maybe a taser and a rope and we could have public outings and shaming as part of the Boston tradition. :D

Still don't buy the fireman's story---he wasn't aware he was taking a spot from somebody else. Really?!? Graduate of the Derek Zoolander School for Kids that don't do math good?

Anybody hear anything more on Boston Dad. Has he taken up any of cash challenges? Does he run or has he taken up dodgeball?
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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby Robinandamelia » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:23 pm

canalrunner wrote:Maybe they could introduce spot checks in Hopkinton, there is a lot of time hanging around at the school. Run the numbers. Spot the bibs. Laptop computer, flashlight, maybe a taser and a rope and we could have public outings and shaming as part of the Boston tradition. :D

Still don't buy the fireman's story---he wasn't aware he was taking a spot from somebody else. Really?!? Graduate of the Derek Zoolander School for Kids that don't do math good?

Anybody hear anything more on Boston Dad. Has he taken up any of cash challenges? Does he run or has he taken up dodgeball?


The link on the article to the guy's blog has an update on marathon dad.... No he didn't take up the offers...apparently recovering from an injury but hopes to be back to his "previous running form" again.... A few thoughts on law suits though...a good read...the whole blog has some interesting stuff.

I agree on the fireman not knowing he was taking a spot away from someone. I feel bad for him though as clearly he's really worried about what this will do to his reputation/livelihood if it gets out...

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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby Pat29 » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:55 pm

I don't get it. I wouldn't feel any sense of pride running Boston by getting in this any.

I didn't buy the fireman's story either.
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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby Dstew » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:28 pm

ian wrote:
canalrunner wrote:I hope the final list is done carefully and is underreporting, because once on the "out" list, it would be hard to convince folks that you aren't suspicious.

That's my main point. The onus should never be on the athlete to "prove" honesty (over and above the measures taken by the race itself) and if even one person ends up being falsely accused by some horde of internet vigilantes, leaving a permanent digital footprint, it would undo much of the goodwill from having outed scores of real cheaters.



2004 - first marathon - 3:58

2005 - second Marathon 3:17

2006 - Boston - 3:38 - had a stress fracture the end of August 2005. Walked the Freedom Trail on Friday and got a sun burn. Also had planned to meet friends for some walking tours of New York so wanted to save my legs for that.

By just that criteria I would have been considered guilty until otherwise proven innocent.

And further, a few weeks after Boston, I ran a 3:19 and qualified again. In Boston, at the half way mark decided with the rain and wind of a Nor' Easter that had kept me up all night and a number of other factors, I shut it down and decided to just enjoy the experience. The result was a finish of 3:33. These times would allow a self appointed authority to accuse me of cheating? What if I did not have the shorter races to "prove" my innocence.

My sub 20 minute 5 K and sub 90 minute half marathon in 2005 and the 42 minute 10 K in 2004 would have removed the target from my back but I shutter at the thought of even being considered as a fraud. What if I had only run marathons or only had my 2004 half marathons in the 1:40 range? My reputation is crucial in my line of work and so this on line vigilantism is more then a little frightening. I wonder for everyone they accuse, how many can they actually prove are guilty?

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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby Jwolf » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:50 pm

Dstew wrote:
ian wrote:
canalrunner wrote:I hope the final list is done carefully and is underreporting, because once on the "out" list, it would be hard to convince folks that you aren't suspicious.

That's my main point. The onus should never be on the athlete to "prove" honesty (over and above the measures taken by the race itself) and if even one person ends up being falsely accused by some horde of internet vigilantes, leaving a permanent digital footprint, it would undo much of the goodwill from having outed scores of real cheaters.



2004 - first marathon - 3:58

2005 - second Marathon 3:17

2006 - Boston - 3:38 - had a stress fracture the end of August 2005. Walked the Freedom Trail on Friday and got a sun burn. Also had planned to meet friends for some walking tours of New York so wanted to save my legs for that.

By just that criteria I would have been considered guilty until otherwise proven innocent.

And further, a few weeks after Boston, I ran a 3:19 and qualified again. In Boston, at the half way mark decided with the rain and wind of a Nor' Easter that had kept me up all night and a number of other factors, I shut it down and decided to just enjoy the experience. The result was a finish of 3:33. These times would allow a self appointed authority to accuse me of cheating? What if I did not have the shorter races to "prove" my innocence.

My sub 20 minute 5 K and sub 90 minute half marathon in 2005 and the 42 minute 10 K in 2004 would have removed the target from my back but I shutter at the thought of even being considered as a fraud. What if I had only run marathons or only had my 2004 half marathons in the 1:40 range? My reputation is crucial in my line of work and so this on line vigilantism is more then a little frightening. I wonder for everyone they accuse, how many can they actually prove are guilty?


They don't "accuse" anyone until they have evidence they are guilty with way more incriminating information than you give here. Usually a picture of someone running with the other person's number, or clear evidence of course cutting. There are many more hundreds of people with situations similar to yours that don't get accused-- that's just how he distills the initial data.

Seriously-- if you didn't cheat he's not going to "out" you.

As he said he only found 47 people in the end-- and there are likely many more that slipped through.
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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby Jwolf » Sat Apr 16, 2016 5:47 pm

It seems that other than using someone else's bib, the most common way to cheat is course cutting. Personally I think the onus should be on the races to DQ someone for missing timing mats. Isn't that what the timing mats are for? To make sure you run the whole course? Otherwise why have them?
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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby ian » Sat Apr 16, 2016 6:09 pm

Jwolf wrote:It seems that other than using someone else's bib, the most common way to cheat is course cutting. Personally I think the onus should be on the races to DQ someone for missing timing mats. Isn't that what the timing mats are for? To make sure you run the whole course? Otherwise why have them?

Mostly agree. I think the concern is that the chips themselves aren't 100% reliable, so you'd again get the danger of a false accusation, although multiple mats plus looking for unusual changes in pace would help. Anecdotally, the QCM (Regina) course puts a mat at the halfway point and for two straight years, my friend (who was, at that stage, right beside me both times) didn't trigger the mat.

My sense is that a lot of these races "have more important things to worry about" than trying to root out course cutters beyond the front of the race. AG awards and BQ certification are certainly meaningful to those affected, but maybe not so much to organizers who are trying to manage the race experience for the other 90% of the field. Maybe in the future, Boston will reduce their roster of qualifying races to a handful in which more anti-cheating measures can be imposed.

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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby purdy65 » Sat Apr 16, 2016 6:53 pm

I would be in favour of mandating mid race timing mats as a prerequisite to being considered a Boston qualifier.


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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby Mark.AU » Sat Apr 16, 2016 6:57 pm

Put a photographer at each (or most) timing mat. No chip time time at the mat? check the time-stamped photo. No chip time AND no photo, DQ. Sell the photos, system pays for itself.
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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby Dstew » Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:52 pm

According to Murphy, 29 received bibs from legitimate qualifiers, 10 are suspected of cutting the course at their qualifying race, four used bib mules, and four appear on race results that were falsified.


That translates into .037% of those who ran Boston are suspected/ alleged to have done so by cutting a course. That is out of the 1,409 results that raised a red flag looked at out of 2,439. For the sake of argument, they find another 10 in the 1,000 results they have not yet looked at. That gets one to .07%. I appreciate Boston and other marathons will have to say this is a concern but I believe most RD would be pleasantly shocked to hear that the numbers are so low and thus no real reason nor incentive to change the system.

There are other issues: When qualified in 2005, the Calgary marathon had a start, half way and finish timing mat. I looked at the published results and that from the race and the mid way point did was not provided. There were some photographers at the start, some half way point, some at a couple of other places and at the finish. But at the time, there was a quirk in the course. If memory serves, it was around the 27 K mark. One ran down into Bowness Park, did either a 1 K or 1 mile loop that returned one back to where they entered the park. Aid stations and porta potties were there. So someone who wanted to cheat could have gone into a porta pottie, rested a few minutes and then continued on. Back then, you qualified you were in once the registration process opened so not the incentive to shave off literally ever second that may apply now. The only danger or risk was that it was such a small race that the field was quite spread out by that point and time and you usually had a running partner or three whether you wanted them or not. Thus someone might notice a person who went into a porta pottie but finished ahead of them. The point of this story is that I am sure there are some small races with limited resources that may present an opportunity to cheat. With such a small number caught by the on line vigilante, why would a race do anything costing any money to prevent this.

As an aside, Calgary did change the route and the current one has an out and back. But at the very end of the out and back is a timing mat and given the relatively low cost of that, does "protect" the integrity of the race.

On the other hand, the mules, etc seem to be the bigger issue and in many cases, I assume are easily solved. Such as a photo of a man with the bib of a female "qualifier". But then there is the other problem. Someone who is so desperate to run Boston will pay or beg someone to run a qualifying time for them is not likely going to be discouraged if their results are wiped out 7 months post race. They have their medal, their jacket, their photographs. Friends and family has long deleted and text messages informing them of the results. They also have their certificate. Aside from some public shaming, if that, what price does a cheater pay? Block Facebook, deleted and twitter account and shut down the blog and even the shaming part would be ineffective. Thus why this is a tempest in a tea cup and I understand the position of the BAA

For his part, Tom Grilk at the BAA is satisfied with the registration process. “We look to race directors to stand behind their results, and they do,” he said.


Having dealt with defamation issues as part of my job, I am sure the BAA has taken this stance and the author did not publish the names of the individuals the on line vigilante provided because although the truth is an absolute defense, one better be 110% sure about the accusation. Never mind the award for damages and potential economic losses if a court found the allegations were not proven to the standard called for by the courts, the cost of such cases can easily get into the One hundred Thousand dollar range. They tend to be very personal and bitter and all sense and practicality goes out the window. From a legal perspective, my guess is that it would just be about impossible to "prove" someone cut a course. One would need multiple witnesses and maybe even a video of the person doing it. Timing chips do not work. Maybe when the photographs were being taken, the person can say they were behind someone. It is a person who has to push the shutter and so can they say with 100% certainty that after hours they caught every single person? And back to the number who have alleged to have cut a course, not worth the effort to increase vigilance.

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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby Jogger Barbie » Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:39 am

We were talking a little about this at the post-race celebrations last night. With a BQ time of 3:46:xx and a Boston time of 4:19:50, I would float right to the top of the "to be investigated" list. But I am pretty sure that other race results and photos would show this to be an outlier.

I am half-tempted to message the guy and tell him not to waste his time with my result. ;)
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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby canalrunner » Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:16 am

You would be picked up by the first screening, but pass all the others--other marathons, other halves etc... Wonder if they factor in the good Boston weather versus the bad Boston weather. Almost everyone who ran in the 2012 heat would have a Boston time a lot. slower than their BQ.

It is likely that these stories of auditing marathon results for cheaters will have some deterrent impact. In the end, there will be people who cheat and not get caught. They will have to comfortable in their own skin.
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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby RobW » Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:27 am

It crossed my mind a few times wondering how many are here running that shouldn't be. I would be picked up in the first screening having been 27 minutes slower than my qualifying time in Victoria. After Victoria, I was 20 minutes slower in NYC 3 weeks later and 50 minutes slower in Red Deer when I ran with habs in May the following year. I got a PB in the half 3 weeks before Red Deer but have since stopped busting my butt and doing speed work. My results shows slower times in the shorter distances but not by a large gap - 5 minutes in the half and a few minutes in the 10k. Likely even slower today but the trend is gradual. I'm not worried about getting called out as a cheater.

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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby La » Tue Apr 19, 2016 12:09 pm

Jogger Barbie wrote:We were talking a little about this at the post-race celebrations last night. With a BQ time of 3:46:xx and a Boston time of 4:19:50, I would float right to the top of the "to be investigated" list. But I am pretty sure that other race results and photos would show this to be an outlier.

I am half-tempted to message the guy and tell him not to waste his time with my result. ;)

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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby turd ferguson » Tue Apr 19, 2016 12:46 pm

Dstew wrote: But at the time, there was a quirk in the course. If memory serves, it was around the 27 K mark. One ran down into Bowness Park, did either a 1 K or 1 mile loop that returned one back to where they entered the park. Aid stations and porta potties were there. So someone who wanted to cheat could have gone into a porta pottie, rested a few minutes and then continued on. Back then, you qualified you were in once the registration process opened so not the incentive to shave off literally ever second that may apply now. The only danger or risk was that it was such a small race that the field was quite spread out by that point and time and you usually had a running partner or three whether you wanted them or not. Thus someone might notice a person who went into a porta pottie but finished ahead of them.


I was a course marshal one year when this was the setup and "caught" a cheater on Memorial/Parkdale/Bowness road.

I don't know exactly what this woman did, but clearly she turned around far too soon. But somehow she'd mistimed the cheat and gotten herself in front of the womens lead cyclist.

The thing was that I had a walkie-talkie and part of my job was to radio in the order of the mens and womens leaders to the start-finish. The order was her, then maybe 10 minutes later the womens lead cyclist, then the actual lead woman. It was obvious that she'd cheated (how else do you get in front of the lead cyclist?) but nobody saw her do it or could prove anything. She ended up off the podium, but with a BQ. Without solid proof of what she did the race director didn't take further action.

I don't care. It doesn't affect me personally and not a single person in the world was affected by this.
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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby Jwolf » Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:13 pm

turd ferguson wrote:I don't care. It doesn't affect me personally and not a single person in the world was affected by this.

Except the person whose spot she took in Boston.
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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby turd ferguson » Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:14 pm

Jwolf wrote:
turd ferguson wrote:I don't care. It doesn't affect me personally and not a single person in the world was affected by this.

Except the person whose spot she took in Boston.


This happened prior to the new rules.
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Re: Just in Time for Boston--There are cheaters in your mids

Postby Jwolf » Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:16 pm

turd ferguson wrote:
Jwolf wrote:
turd ferguson wrote:I don't care. It doesn't affect me personally and not a single person in the world was affected by this.

Except the person whose spot she took in Boston.


This happened prior to the new rules.


Even before the new rules, Boston did fill up. So she likely did take someone's spot who tried to register later.

And it affects all of us who care at all about the integrity of race times.
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