This past weekend, there was one of the strangest running records ever “set.” (Quotes because this was actually not a record at all) Not only was it the strangest but it was also the most incredible negative split every “run” in the marathon (a negative split happens when the second half of the race is run faster than the first half – when just barely faster, it indicates a well-run, strategic race). And where did this supposed world record run happen? Chickamauga, Georgia!
The Strangest Running Record – But By Cheating
Here is what happened – the female runner that had crossed the finish line first at the Chickamauga Battledfield Marathon on Saturday was Tabatha Hamilton. She “ran” a really decent time on a course like that – and the clock showed she only came in 14 minutes after the male winner. Her time? Her chip (the digital reporting device that runners wear at races to clock their actual time and ensure the running of the entire course by crossing electronic mats) showed a time of 2:55 – a pace of 6:41 per mile.
What Was the Problem?
The problem came when the race officials saw her split times on the course. Her first 13.1 miles reflected a time of 2:06:51 (a 9:41 pace). Her second half of the race was clocked at a world record breaking 47 minutes and 30 seconds for the last half marathon portion of the marathon. That reflects a pace of 3:37 per mile, or 6 seconds faster than the world record in the mile and 11 minutes faster than the world record for the men’s half marathon. Pretty impressive to end a marathon by setting two world records, and beating the men’s world records at that! 🙂
Race officials are not sure how or where skipped part of the course, but they do know that she did not win race and they disqualified her and awarded first place to the 2nd place woman. Tabitha Hamilton claims that her splits were more reasonable (but still with a pretty big negative split) but none of her past race performances put her within shouting distance of a 2:55 marathon. Especially since she said this new PR beat her former one by 6 or 7 minutes.
Rosie Ruiz Revisited
Of course, anyone who heard about this went back to the notorious Rosie Ruiz who had cheated in both the NYC and Boston Marathons. She burst out from the crowd in the Boston Marathon to claim a winning time, a claim she maintained for years. The best thing about that incident was the fact that timing chips that we use now were born out of that incident.
It is a terrible thing to ever see someone cheating, but when the person that cheats takes the glory of breaking the tape away from the deserving runner who actually ran the entire course, that is just as low as it gets in a race.
HT: Runner’s World