Chasing Cheaters: The Sheriff Tells All

Why Does He Do It?

Most of the public response to his investigations has been positive, but some people outside the running community openly question his motivation. For his part, Murphy says he has a lot of respect for people who legitimately qualify for Boston and feels gratified when he roots out dishonest runners. 

"I am working to catch the cheaters so those that deserve it get the recognition--whether it's an award or a Boston spot," he says.

He doesn't receive compensation from race organizers for his work, which includes advising them on how to prevent cheating in future events.

Frankie Ruiz, co-founder of the Miami Marathon and chief running officer at Life Time Fitness, says Murphy helped detect 20 runners with questionable finish and/or split times at his event in January. 

"Some of the cases involved intentional cheating and others were simply participants that didn't feel well enough to complete the entire course, (and) they missed a few of our timing and verification mats," Ruiz says. "Our course verification mats are placed in strategic locations to help us identify any runners that may have not completed the entire route. Some of the locations are announced to the runners--others are placed without their knowing."

Despite these measures, "there is a continued determination by some runners out there to challenge the system, and Derek helps us all stay a few steps ahead," he says.

Based on Murphy's findings this year, the Miami Marathon team is already discussing race improvements for next year to ensure the event is as fair as possible. Meanwhile, Murphy's blog also continues to demonstrate value to the running community by encouraging competitors to speak up about suspected cheating.

One thing is certain: As long as Sheriff Murphy's in town, the Boston Marathon won't be big enough for cheaters. Some of youse got to go.

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