Cyber-sleuth boots 15 cheaters from today’s Boston Marathon

Here in Hopkinton, Mass., this morning, 15 fewer runners – cheaters, actually — are gathering for the start of the Boston Marathon than would have otherwise, thanks to the cyber-sleuthing efforts of an Ohio business analyst.

Derek Murphy has made it his business to purge marathoning and, in particular, the Boston competition, of those who by hook, crook – or writing a check – seek to run as official entrants without having done the training to produce a legitimate qualifying time.

From a story posted Saturday in Runner’s World.

“The goal here is just to reduce the incidents of cheating,” Murphy said. “This year I am going to go through every race that sends a significant number of runners to Boston.”

He said a few computer scientists who read his blog have developed a way to scrape the results of more than 100 races.

He will spend his nights and weekends doing the vast majority of the work. And as his blog continues to grow in readership, he says he is working on partnering with race timing companies in a more official capacity.

What he’s found – over and over and over again – is that runners will skip parts of races or have faster runners compete in their place in order to illicitly gain a time needed to qualify for Boston. Smoking them out by using available online data and photographs has become Murphy’s passion.

Yesterday, my children and I strolled through downtown Hopkinton to soak up the starting-line atmosphere preceding this competition that has long been a point of pride for our small suburban town. One of my sons, a fledgling high school track sprinter, spoke for the first time of wanting to someday run this race. I told him that it’s difficult to qualify.

As it should be.

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