Number one rule of cheating is to never get caught. When cheating in a marathon, never wear a fitness tracker.
A food blogger from New York was exposed as a cheat after she placed second in the Fort Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon held last Feb. 18. The 24-year old Jane Seo, who describes herself as a travel writer, food truck chaser, and avid runner, was wearing a Garmin Forerunner 235 fitness tracker when she finished the 13.1-mile long marathon with a time of 1 hour and 21 minutes. Her time was good enough to place second in the event.
As a point of comparison, the world record for women's half marathon is 1:05:06 which Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir set last Feb. 10, 2017, at the RAK Half marathon. Seo's time would be good enough for 15th place if she ran at the RAK which is certainly an impressive feat.
The celebration was short-lived, however, as Seo was proven to have cheated in the race by taking a short cut. According to The Washington Post, race timer Josh Stern first noticed that something was amiss when he discovered that Seo ran faster during the second half of the race which is rare as most if not all runners slow down in the latter half of a marathon. Runners wear an electronic chip to record their time. According to Seo's official race tracker, she ran 7:09 per minute in the first 10 kilometers of the race and 5:25 for the last 11.08 kilometers.
Derek Murphy, a marathon investigator, was approached to see if Seo's win was legit. Murphy uses technology to expose cheating runners and Seo's case was no different. By investigating the data Seo posted about her run, Murphy deduced that she went back and biked through the course to come up with the "correct" data. Furthermore, using a photo of the runner taken after the race, Murphy zoomed in on Seo's Garmin 235 to take a closer look at its 1.23-inch color LCD screen. Thankfully, the 215 x 180-pixel resolution of the display made it easier to see in the zoomed image that the running distance tally was only 11.65 miles which were way short of the 13.1-mile length of the race.
ARS Technica noted that the Harvard alumnus, who currently writes for Huffington Post, apologized for her actions on a since-deleted Instagram post. Seo was stripped of her second place medal and her time was deleted from the marathon's results page.