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How One Cincinnati Man Catches Marathon Cheaters

Flying Pig Marathon

Cincinnati's Derek Murphy is somewhat of a celebrity. He's known worldwide for investigating possible cheating in marathons and runs the blog Marathon Investigations.

Murphy, profiled by NPR and NBC, is preparing to analyze race data in the Boston Marathon April 16 and the Flying Pig Marathon May 6. He estimates 3-5 percent of runners cheat for a variety of reasons.

"Somebody got tired and just couldn't finish to somebody who tries to cheat in order to post a fast time to qualify for another race like Boston," says Murphy, who gets mad when runners take spots they don't deserve.

Runner's World quotes Murphy detailing a massive cheating incident last summer when more than 5,000 runners at the Mexico City Marathon cut the course to receive a coveted medal. "I was seeing this and I didn't really believe it at first because it was an extreme," he says.

He was also the one who zoomed in on a photo of the 2nd place finisher in the Ft. Lauderdale Half-Marathon to see her watch GPS showed 11.65 instead of 13.1. Later, Murphy says, she tried to recreate the course with her bike so her watch would show the correct distance.

Murphy is running Cincinnati's Flying Pig this year and will check data on other runners afterward, although he says "he hasn't seen anything substantial" when it comes to cheaters locally because the course is "very hilly (and) not conducive to course-cutting."

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With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.