Today we are talking to the man behind Marathon Investigation, a website that seeks to “out” the cheaters of the running world. Derek is himself a runner, has done 11 marathons.

The podcast covers how Derek ensures that there are not issues with the data he is seeing/using from race timers/directors before he publishes a report on those who he believes have cheated. We also discuss why he believes people are engaging in this behavior and how social media has both increased the prevalence and made it easier to identify who might be doing so.

This podcast also discusses the controversy behind transgender runners and the issues that surround their ability to participate in races.

This podcast is a wide ranging discussion of some of the issues around the impact of cheating on racing and what each of us can learn from the cheaters being reported and how we can help be vigilant when we see infractions happening around us and reporting it to the race directors.

Today’s Guest

Derek Murphy, a financial analyst, father and runner, is the person behind the website Marathon Investigation.

What you will learn about:

  • Who is Derek, the man behind the website.
  • The goal of the website is to bring out and identify those who cheat in races, originally to call out those who cheat to qualify for the Boston Marathon but has expanded to other race distances and types and to exposing those who cut a race to reach the podium.
  • How cutting the course is only one way to cheat, others include trading or selling bibs.
  • How Derek was surprised at how easy it was for him to look at race data and determine people were cheating. It spurred his interest in trying to identify those who were trying to profit from others or stealing from someone else. He tries to follow those he suspects to see if there is intent to defraud vs those who cut a course because they are fatigued or not well.
  • How sometimes people themselves prove they cheated by posting their Strava data that clearly shows they didn’t run the entire race. Or clearly shows they have edited the data.
  • Why Derek believes that despite it appearing it focuses on the negatives of the sport, those who benefit but actually then getting into a race like Boston makes it worthwhile. He also has begun to try to balance the negative by reporting on positive stories related to running like charities involved in running to helping people disqualified by mistake get their results corrected.
  • Why Derek decided to cover the issue of transgender runners qualifying for Boston and how difficult it was to balance the discussion so that the issue received the attention it deserved with making sure the intention came across properly. How important language/terminology was to the discussion and how it caused the runners concern over their safety during the race itself.
  • We cover the mass cheating that happened at the Mexico City Marathon/Half Marathon, over 3,000 runners out of roughly 28,000 were disqualified this year and Derek says the real number cheating was over 5,000 and the officials are under-reporting the totals. The impetus was the medal series and runners coveting the medals and being willing to cheat to get them.

Listen to the Running for Real Podcast here:

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Inspirational Quotes:

The part I hate the most is writing the articles but reporting things to the race directors was not effective at making the practice stop. At most I probably write about 10% of what I notice, the rest I do simply report it to the directors and move on.


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Thanks for Listening! I hope you enjoyed today’s episode.

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Thank you to Derek, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.

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