Inside My Mind

Why Do [Some] Runners Cheat? TOL

For today’s Thinking out Loud Thursday link up with (fellow Canadian!) Amanda from Running with Spoons, I wanted to talk about cheating in races. No, I’m not talking about doping today but about course cutting.

Why Do Runners Cheat

Boston has come and gone and so has the little running scandals pop up alongside it. Last year it was the running bandits and this year, it was the man who apparently cheated for his qualifying time to get into Boston (and don’t forget the lady who got busted for cheating the course at St. Louis to BQ for next year)

I seriously do not get it. Why do runners cheat? Why train for a race only to cut the course for a faster time? A time that is unique to you and is a reflection of how much work and effort you put yourself through.  I’ve done out and back races before and can see how it might be “easy” to shave off a couple minutes but I why would I pay for a distance only to run part of it?

I’m sure there have been a lot of course cutters that have gotten away with it but do they not understand that it really doesn’t take much more than your bib number to get your name then compare all your stats to see if you magically shaved an hour off your PR? Is it so they can feel good about “winning” something? Something that can be disproved once you put them back on the course and ask them to bang out a sub 3 marathon. Is it a narcissistic personality that gives them the compulsion to cheat to “win” in order to get their 15 minutes of fame/bragging rights on social media? Especially if they end up taking away the prize/title from someone who genuinely earned it by putting in the work – do they feel no remorse?

Whew – I totally needed to get that off my chest!

So what’s your take on this? How do you feel about cheats? Why do you think they do this?

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30 thoughts on “Why Do [Some] Runners Cheat? TOL

  1. I think it is the unfortunate reality of our society that people are desperate, have a lot of pressure on them to perform, and they do what they feel they must do to “survive.” I obviously don’t agree with it or condone it. It saddens me greatly. But when money and pride are at stake, unfortunately people will do anything.

  2. I’m not sure why they cheat but this is an interesting topic. You’d think people would just work hard and do their best. If someone worked harder and did better so be it.

  3. I don’t like that people cheat, but I can see why. People that are SO dependent and motivated on achieving their goal will do anything. So, at the cost of cutting the course, or more often taking illegal and dangerous supplements (i.e. doping with steroids, HGH, hormone injections, blood transfusions) they can shortcut to “success.”

  4. I actually had no idea that this sort of thing was going on, but I guess it makes sense. Lots of pressure and insecurity in our world today, and I guess some people just can’t handle not feeling good enough. It’s sad, but I also feel like there’ll always be those people…

  5. Cheaters make me rage! There is just no point, and with today’s technology, they ALWAYS get caught.

    I would love to win at something in the running world, but I want to do it under my own power, not because I cut a course or did something dishonest. It cheapens the sport and divides the community. It takes something away from those who DID earn the honors, and there’s just no way to excuse it.

  6. I don’t understand this at all either! Running is such an individual sport where you should be competing against yourself. There are times for competition but if you need to cheat to win, it defeats the purpose completely.

  7. I seriously don’t get it either. They must have no conscience? I mean, how could you live with yourself knowing you cheated?

  8. I too do not understand. This sport embraces everyone regardless of pace, so why cheat? The man who cheated to get into Boston has had his story go viral and been exposed, but it happens more than people would like to believe (I know that it has happened in several local races in Charleston). Sometimes people who do not usually run will cheat and not think about it- at one of the local tech company 5Ks here, it is an out-and-back course so people walked a mile, got tired of it, and walked a mile back. They don’t realize that they could be taking an award or placement from someone who ran the whole 3 miles. I also had a friend who accidentally cut a course on a trail race and realized it, but she told the organizer at the finish- he actually gave her a prize (not an award, but like, a pair of running socks that otherwise would be a door prize) for being honest about it!

    • Yes! I’m sure it happens way more and it puts other runners in an awkward position as to whether or not to report it to a director if they witness it. kudos to your friend! so nice of them to give her a pair of shoes!

  9. I honestly don’t get it either but people do strange things for so many reasons, misguided or otherwise. Some do it for prize money, some do it for the feeling they may get when someone lavishes praise onto them. For instance that guy who got on TV wanted his kids to see him there – what it took to get there didn’t matter, all they saw was their daddy and that gave him a sense of pride. So many people are desensitized to the difference between right/wrong as long as end result is paid attention to. Interesting topic!

  10. I’m with you . I don’t understand it. Perhaps people just want the bragging rights and the cool medal without having to do all the work, IDK. I have seen people cut the course at a Disney 5K that isn’t even timed and I have also known of people who have jumped in at longer distance races and ran the last half just to get the medal at the end. Why on earth would someone want a medal for a race where they did not run the full course. I just don’t get it. but the bigger concern is why do they think they DESERVE to get the medal for only running part of the course. Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now. Good topic!

    • They honestly must be so good at lying. If someone was to ask about a disney medal (because let’s face it – disney has amazing medals haha) after they post about it (probably why they want the medal to begin with), trying to keep your story straight about your race experience would be quite difficult!

  11. I 100% agree with you. If you’ve worked hard and trained hard for a race, then you should stand proud of your finish time, no matter what it is. I still think of myself as a “slower” runner compared to others, but that in no way would encourage me to cheat during a race. The only person I’d truly be cheating is myself.

  12. I just think that it’s because, unfortunately, the world has a lot more shitty people than we like to think. There are some weird people out there with some whacked out motivations.

    But with a blog and a voice and some positive influence, as the world gets more transparent, we can keep on influencing each other to go down the right path 😉

    • We are surrounded by such a fun and supportive running community (because duh – you and fueling4fitness is in it 😉 ) that it sucks to think there are shitty runners 😛

  13. I don’t get it either! I have seen people cheat and many races I have done, and I just don’t get it. Why? First, some races aren’t even times so you really are just cheating yourself. And second, why cheat to begin with?! It makes no sense.

  14. While I ‘get’ the reasons why some people might do it – people who really want to run Boston, for example, but don’t think they’ll ever qualify … that doesn’t mean it makes any sense to me. What does it really matter, after all?

    Oh well, everyone has to live with themselves, I suppose.

  15. I saw 2 women cut the course short during my first half on Saturday. The only ones they are cheating is themselves. I’d like to know I could complete the course on my own and truthfully. How can they take the medal and feel good about themselves? I couldnt. I completely agree with you.

  16. It is so sad to me that anyone would choose cheat in their races. Everyone works so hard to even be able to run them, cutting a couple minutes off of your time by cutting the course is just ridiculous.

  17. On a similar topic, at the obstacle race I describe in my blog today — I heard a woman entrant tell the judge at the obstacle that she couldn’t do the obstacle because it would hurt her back . . . and this is what got me raging — couldn’t do the burpee punishment either. So while I was trotting with probably 75 lbs of rocks in a bucket up a big hill, she was just walkin — and there would be no discernment about effort at the finish line. I was wondering why she even entered if she wasn’t going to do the challenges

  18. Cheating during races is a weird concept for me. I probably would understand it if you’re in it to win or going after the prize (though still not condone it).. But for the most of us it’s about challenging yourself and setting personal bests. In that case, you’re just cheating yourself.

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