Framing the argument.
Ultras have now matured so that people work at cheating on them. It's always something. I've suspected it in various 50ks, 50-milers, and a few 100-milers. Marathons had their wakeup with Rosie Ruiz, and her 1980 subway-assisted Boston Marathon win.

Cheating can occur in the following scenarios:
  • Races with interior loops, staffed by volunteers, with little or no help, and irregular contact with other volunteers running HAM and finish line duties
  • Long stretches were people can get rides without scrutiny
  • Out & back sections with no monitoring, or proof of completion
  • Where trails parallel paved or graded roads
Cheating has always been rumored, but the rise in timing chip/Garminesque GPS tech watches has closed the gap. Provided the registered entrant is wearing the watch etc.  

This will percolate downwards into the sport. Time-testing will undoubtedly accompany drug-testing in marquee races. 

Race directors don't get a pass on this. Huh?
  • if they don't adequately monitor problematic sections
  • if they ignore reports of cheating without investigating
  • if they allow podium places to go to people who've cut the course 
  • if they say that the next finisher "was so far back it wouldn't make any difference"
I've been an RD. Its no fun at all to tell someone, let alone someone you like that they didn't run the course, and that they are now a DNF.

A standout exception to all this  is Gary Cantrell, Barkley Marathons RD. After the 2017 race he informed the almost-finisher Gary Robbins that had he finished, he still would be out of luck. He'd taken a wrong turn, gone the wrong way on the last loop, and thus had not run the course. Period. 

Robbins did the right thing and accepted the reality, no whining or bullshit. May all of us have that maturity.

Note: Earlier section about GPX and BigFoot 200 was incorrect, and has been deleted. 


Adrian said…
it's unfortunate because I have evolved to running without a watch most of the time now - it's too distracting. Ultra watches are also expensive. I do understand the necessity. It's an easy way to preclude cheaters

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