I don't know care what they do: cut courses, falsify finish times, let someone else run using their bib, jump corrals, make up races, [insert offense here] and I don't care why they do it: to qualify for Boston, to qualify for the Guiness Book of World Records, to avoid being swept, [insert reason here], they are all the same thing:
Now let me put one disclaimer in here right now. If anyone reading this blog post uses anything I say as an idea of how to cheat in the future, know there is a special place in hell for you because that is not my intent at all.
Does your cheating affect me? No, not necessarily and this is the number one reason why I haven't been vocal about this before. Some of my friends don't care because it doesn't directly affect them and they're right. Technically it doesn't diminish my accomplishment or all of my hard work. It does, however, put a black eye on our sport and that affects us all. Also, in cases where it means someone is in a corral they shouldn't be in, it makes dangerous conditions for those runners that deserve to be there....and that does affect other runners.
Let me be perfectly honest, I am not 100% innocent. I have bumped myself up in corrals in the past. I was worried about the dreaded sweepers/balloon ladies. I made sure I stayed to the side and out of the faster runners' ways, but it still wasn't right and I take full blame for that. In retrospect, after seeing it from the other side, I know it was wrong and wish I hadn't done it.
If you've made it this far in my rant to hear me name names, you're going to be disappointed. I'm not going to out anyone here, but I am going to list a few examples and the guilty will probably recognize who they are. I will take the high road and not name them, however.
It's ridiculous and I don't know how you can honestly accept a medal or a finisher time knowing you did not go the full distance. I've seen this in both running events and triathlons. Do you really think that people are going to believe your pace was twice as fast in the first half of the race than the second? There is nothing wrong with being in the back of the pack - I've been last in many a race, but at least I can hold my head high knowing that I did the full distance.
Make Up Your Own Course
I'm sorry, but if you missed a cutoff and they wouldn't let you cross the bridge that had to be opened to traffic, you didn't finish. I don't care if you know the city and can find an alternative route to the finish line. You did not run the designated race course and should not be celebrated for all of your hard work. It's great you followed thru and put the miles in, don't get me wrong, but you did not finish the race and do not deserve the same medal or official time that those that made the cutoffs get.
Running Under Someone Else's Bib to Get Them a Faster Time
When you regularly run a 14+ minute mile, do you really think people are going to believe that you suddenly have a 10 minute pace race? It's possible, but probably unlikely. When your significant other, who normal runs a 10 minute pace has a 14+ minute pace in the very same race....then things really start to look fishy.
Falsifying Races/Times to Qualify for Guinness/Marathon Maniacs/Half Fanatics
Yes, people do this. Unfortunately, I know one personally that made up races just to qualify for one of the above distinctions....and there are many others that I don't know personally, but have heard about. If you don't believe me, google "Kip Litton". Unfortunately, this notorious cheater also shares my hometown.
Using Virtual Races to Count as Real Races
A few years ago, I was bored and did a google search on either "Half Fanatics Virtual" or "Marathon Maniacs Virtual". I can't remember which I used, but the point is the same. It came up with several people that were counting virtual races as their races to qualify for one of the groups. Virtual races are NOT RACES. They are training runs that give you a medal. A race has a designated start and finish and is run with other people. Yes, that describes some training runs too, but there is a distinct difference.
Do cheaters prosper? Well, considering there are two cheaters that made it into the Guinness Book of World Records and I've seen some today brag about corral placements in major races, maybe they do. However, there are also many groups out there lately that have made it their business to out cheaters and it may be that your prosperity from your cheating is short lived....for the rest of us, I hope this is true.
One last thought to leave you with....One of my good friends has twin 15-year-old sons that are runners. They make fun of cheaters, it has become a common running joke among them. How can impressionable young runners, individuals that should be looking up to us adult runners as role models, have a better moral compass than some of the adults that they should be looking up to?