Going the Distance (and Beyond) to Catch Marathon Cheaters

www.wired.com

A long read by GordyMegroz on amateur distance runners cheating in races, one man's mission to bust them, and 70-year-old doctor named Frank Meza's tragic story. Worth reading in full, as it goes well beyond simply 'running'.

In 2015 he watched the message boards come alive with debate over a runner who qualified for the Boston Marathon with a significantly faster time than the guy had ever had in previous marathons. The chatter intrigued Murphy. What struck him was not so much the did-he-or-didn't-he question, but just how easy cheating could be. “I was like, why are we so fixated on this one guy? Is there anybody else who's doing this?”
Murphy mostly blames social media for the compulsion to cheat. “Amateur athletes cheat for the likes,” he says. But social media likes can just as quickly turn to hate. In 2018, Murphy accused Maude Gorman, a runner who'd finished second at an ultramarathon in Maine, of cutting the course. She was later disqualified from the race and confessed that she had, in fact, skipped parts of the course. “Shame is powerful,” she wrote last summer in an Instagram post. “And after cheating in a few ultra-marathons … I wasn't sure how to deal with the overwhelming sense of shame placed on me … I was standing on a bridge, ready to commit suicide.”

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