ⓘ Marathon course-cutting occurs when runners complete less than an entire course of a marathon before going over the finish line. The standard length of a marath ..


ⓘ Marathon course-cutting

Marathon course-cutting occurs when runners complete less than an entire course of a marathon before going over the finish line. The standard length of a marathon course is 42.195 kilometers, about 26.2 miles. Course-cutting may be intentional or unintentional and can be achieved by various means. When done intentionally, course-cutting constitutes cheating.

Many marathon runners consider course-cutting to be worse than doping, considering that dopers are at least trying to run the entire race.


1. Notable incidents

In 1904, Frederick Lorz rode a car during the Olympic marathon in St. Louis.

In October 1979, Rosie Ruiz rode the New York City Subway during the New York City Marathon. In so doing, she qualified for the April 1980 Boston Marathon, and was the first woman to cross the finish line. Her medal was later revoked because she only ran the last half mile of the race.

In 2007 Roberto Madrazo, a Mexican presidential candidate in 2006, had his results invalidated in the Berlin Marathon. According to his timing chip, Madrazo skipped two checkpoints on the course and covered one nine-mile segment in 21 minutes faster than world-record speed for such a distance.

In 2014, Tabatha Hamilton appeared to win the womens category of the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon with a time of 2:54:21 2:55:39 gun time. However, officials at the Chattanooga Track Club, which operates the race, grew suspicious upon examining her splits. While Hamiltons timing chip showed she ran the first half in 2:06:31, she appeared to run the second half in 47:30, which would have far exceeded the then-world record for a man in a half-marathon. Additionally, her past race times were not consistent with her supposed performance in Chickamauga. Race officials ultimately concluded Hamiltons timing data showed she could not have possibly run the entire race, and disqualified her.

In 2016, Julie Miller seemingly won the womens 40-44 category in Ironman Canada 2015. However, neither the second-, third- or fourth-place finishers could recall seeing her, with the runner-up even going as far as to publicly confront Miller and ask when she passed her. The other athletes conducted their own investigation after race officials rebuffed them, and compiled evidence that indicated Miller could not possibly have reached specific points at the times she claimed during the marathon segment of the competition. Confronted with this evidence, World Triathlon Corporation disqualified Miller from the 2015 race, as well as Ironman Canada 2013 and the 2014 Vancouver Triathlon. It also took the unprecedented step of banning her from all Ironman events indefinitely.


2. News coverage

In 2006, the Washington Post reported that the seventh- and eighth-place women’s finishers of the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon were disqualified. Rick Nealis, the race director, disqualified 350 runners in the 2005 race.

In 2009, the New York Times ran an article on course-cutting, including a map of where about 46 runners in the 2008 New York City Marathon left and reentered the course." An untold number of runners escape detection, marathon officials said.”

In 2010, the Chicago Tribune reported that in" the 2009 Chicago Marathon, 252 runners times were disqualified, most for missing two or more timing mats in a row.”

In a 2012 New York Post article, a New York City Marathon official calculated that "each year an average of 30 to 40 are disqualified" from the marathon.

In 2018, The Guardian reported that 258 runners in the Shenzhen Half-Marathon were disqualified, most of them for taking shortcuts.

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