CIM gets serious about cheaters

The California International Marathon in Sacramento, also known as CIM, isn’t taking cheaters lightly. The race has enlisted the help of Marathon Investigation, which helps root out bandits, course cutters, fake bibs and bib mules.

Recently, CIM race directors caught someone who was advertising on CraigsList for a competitive preferably male bib mule — someone “willing and able to run under the time limit.” It was presumed the advertiser sought a Boston Marathon qualifying time. The advertiser received a lifetime ban from CIM.

In a letter sent to the advertiser, who’s name was redacted, CIM race director Eli Asch wrote:

“Transferring your bib at all is a clear violation of our race rules, as stated on our Event Rules page (“The California International Marathon entry fees may not be transferred under any circumstances. Individuals involved in these illegal transactions will both be disqualified”) and in the waiver you signed with your registration (in which you acknowledged “that the entry fee paid is non-refundable and non-transferable”). Beyond being a clear violation of event rules, paying a bib mule to run a Boston Qualifier for you goes even several steps further–it compromises the integrity of our event and its results, is intentional and premeditated cheating, and goes against the very spirit of the marathon. It is unethical and wrong, and could result in robbing someone of a spot on the Boston Marathon starting line–a spot that they fairly earned.

“In light of this, your entry for this year’s California International Marathon has been invalidated and you are banned from future editions of the California International Marathon. Additionally, the Sacramento Running Association will be sharing your information with Marathon Investigation, which maintains a flagged list of runners whose results deserve further scrutiny, as well as other running organizations including many major races in our region as well as the Boston Athletics Association, organizers of the Boston Marathon. Beyond that we will keep your personal information confidential (although we reserve the right to change that stance if your future actions necessitate it).”

modesto marathon bandit
Alicia Plancarte (in light green) was caught with a photocopied bib and no chip at the finish of the 2016 Modesto Marathon. Race directors had been given a heads up that she and Dagoberto Calderon were going to bandit the race.

Cheating in races has become more common in recent years. Just last year, race directors of the Modesto Marathon found that a pair of runners had copied other runners’ bibs and hadn’t registered or paid. Race directors had been given a heads up before the race that this pair might attempt to bandit the course — or run the race without paying. Sure enough, they were busted but weren’t apologetic.

Some bandits may question, “What’s the big deal? I’m a middle-of-the-pack runner and didn’t win any prize money.”

Cheaters are not paying to support the race yet are enjoying all of the benefits — traffic enforcement, aid stations, running a sold-out race, even finishers’ medals. In other words, the vast majority of runners who follow the rules and pay the registration fees are subsidizing cheaters.