Two former runners from the Boston College men’s cross country team created fake bibs using a registered runner’s number and participated in the 2014 Boston Marathon, assistant BC cross country coach Tim Ritchie confirmed to the running blog Fittish. Ritchie would not identify the runners by name, but said that the two men who appeared in photographs shared by Kara Bonneau, the registered runner whose number was used, were former athletes that he coached.
“I don’t want to do anything that’s going to do anything to these two kids,” Ritchie told Fittish.
Bonneau, of North Carolina, shared a photograph of four runners, all using her bib number during the race, with the blog Runner’s Breakfast. She found the images while searching for her race pictures online, which are sorted by bib number.
“I was especially infuriated to see photos of those runners posing with finisher medals that really did not belong to them,” Bonneau told Runner’s Breakfast. “I also felt really naive because I made it pretty easy for them to do this by posting a photo of my bib on social media.”
After sending a message to the Boston Marathon Facebook page, Bonneau received a response from BAA administrators stating, “Unfortunately, this is a habit of individuals who decided to go outside of the normal lines of registration. There is little we can do, other than to send a message of deterrence.”
The BAA posted an official response on its Facebook page last Thursday stating, “As adjudication continues for the 2014 Boston Marathon, we have a review process for when questions arise. We take all matters related to participation and performance seriously. We rely upon our own information as well as reports from runners and the public. At the end of our review process, we will make determinations upon review and prior to results becoming official for our field of 32,000 finishers. A committee comprised of B.A.A. officials reviews all questions related to unofficial participation. This process takes several weeks, and results are unofficial until they appear in the Racers’ Record Book, which is due to be published during the summer. Among the B.A.A.’s clearly stated rules for official participants in the Boston Marathon, runners receive instruction on multiple occasions that bibs may not be altered in any way, and they are not transferable or exchangeable. No one may wear the bib number belonging to another, official entrant.”
Executive director Tom Griik spoke about the issue last Friday.
“The adjudication committee will decide what action will be taken,” he told the Associated Press, “with full consideration to the impact of cheating on those who have worked so hard to qualify and those who give so much of themselves to raise money for our outstanding local charities.”
Ritchie also told Fittish that the two BC runners were raising money for a friend’s charity, but resorted to counterfeit bibs after failing to apply for official bibs by the BAA’s deadline. After the bombings at last year’s Marathon, the BAA announced that it would expand the field to 36,000 runners, but also discouraged bandit runners from running, despite the long tradition of their participating in the race.
“Fluids, medical care, and traffic safety, are provided based on the number of official entrants,” the BAA posted on its website. “Any addition to this by way of unofficial participants, adversely affects our ability to ensure a safe race for everyone.”
A BAA spokesman told The Boston Globe that runners with counterfeit bibs went through the same security checkpoints to get onto the Marathon course as the official runners.
Clarification: The original headline for this article implied that the two male runners were current BC students. While it has been confirmed that they are former members of the BC cross country team, it has not been been confirmed whether or not that are currently enrolled at BC.