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A Runner’s Diary: On Cheating…

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I only cheated twice in my life. Once when I was in high school. I was in a class with my now husband, and he was acing the class and I was practically failing and didn’t understand why. I wrote a paper for that class which he slightly rewrote for me. When we turned them in, he received an “A” and I received a “B.”

The second time was when I ran a race in Jones Beach before I was a runner. I was running/walking with my staff in a corporate challenge. I was talking with one of my designers and thinking that there was no way I could run anymore. I didn’t train and had no experience running. So when my staff member said, “Hey, let’s cut across the field,” I went with her. Everyone was shouting, “Cheaters,” and I felt terrible.

I started to think seriously about cheating because I recently ran three races since I started on my journey to running a half marathon. At each race, I noticed that some people seemed to cut corners. Actually, the first race I ran I noticed that a young woman was in front of us and cut diagonally across the field. When I questioned the kid who was standing in the area directing the race, he told me that he could do nothing about it.

What I realized is — does it really matter how fast you run? Sure, it’s nice to win but what matters most is that you did it. You completed your task. You set your mind to do something and you did it. I guess for me being a beginner, running any distance is a huge accomplishment.

So when I see or read about people who cheat, I just think they cheated themselves. I know I cheated myself at that race at Jones Beach a few years ago. And for the other example, I just think the teacher had it in for me!

I started to do some research on cheating at races. Is this something that is common? I read about Rosie Ruiz who won the Boston Marathon in record time. Apparently when she went up to accept the award, there was not a drop of sweat on her. The judges were confused. They couldn’t understand how she ran 26.2 miles and didn’t sweat. When they investigated, they found that she cheated. This was one of the biggest scandals in recent marathon history.

So obviously people cheat. Coming in 3700th place out of 4000 is okay in my book! At least I accomplished my goal.



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About Hilary Topper

  • Great article, Hilary. It’s not winning the race but how you get there, right?

    Rosie Ruiz was a celebrated cheat, but there have been many others, too.

    Just hope your high school teacher isn’t reading this and saying, “A-ha!” somewhere.

  • Hilary Topper

    LOL… Thanks Victor…

  • Birgit Nazarian

    I am a runner too and have run a number of races from 5K to marathon. On the course, during the race, there are a number of “course marshals” watching for course cutters. I don’t know how a cheater could get past them, now we are timed by electronic chips that attach to our race number or shoe, etc. If someone pulled a Rosie Ruiz, they would probably be caught. That’s good of course, but it’s still possible in a small race where it’s still about the honor-system. Certain courses have open fields or wooded paths and only human eyes to keep runners on course. Who’d want to cheat in a podunk little race? What would be the point unless you had a grudge match with a neighbor who was racing too? 😀 But anyhow, cheating not only sucks for everyone else, it sucks for the cheater. An accomplishment like completing a tough race builds your confidence and makes you feel great, but only if you put your best into it. Good luck!

  • You are right about cheating. But one slight correction. Rosie Ruiz ran the NYC marathon, and they discovered that she had actually taken the subway near the end–that’s how she cheated! LOL!