On Saturday November 8th in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia the Chickamauga Marathon was ran. Controversy over the female winner has many people asking about the integrity over Tabatha Hamilton the first place finisher who was later disqualified. Tabatha crossed the finish line in 2:53, which is a believable time for a woman. However race officials said they have her first half being clocked at 2:06. Which means her second half of the marathon was ran in 47:30. That is 11 minutes faster than the man’s world record for the half marathon. Second place finisher Lillian Gilmer who ran the course in 3:21:28 was later rewarded the victory. You can read all about it here on Runners World page.
Wow!!! Is all I can say about this incident. What type of person decides to cheat in a race and actually thinks that is a good idea? There are so many things wrong with what this lady did. First we have all ran races and at one point in the race felt like quitting, but you fight through whatever is hurting you and you make it to the finish. At no time in any of my races when I was down and out did I think if there was a way to cheat and get to the finish. Second we dream about being that person who crosses the finish line first with our hands held high in the air and people cheering for us, but we all know the odds of that happening in our life for most of us are slim to none. I am sorry but there is no way I would be able to cross the finish line and know that I robbed someone else of getting that feeling. How do you go home and look at yourself in the mirror? This lady denies that she cheated and says her first half split was wrong. So many things don’t add up though, if the time she gave for her first half split is correct that would put her 5 seconds in front of Lillian Gilmer. Lillian says she never saw another lady in front of her. It gets even stranger when the course was an out and back course. I am no stranger to the out and back courses and every time I run one I look at the people who are ahead of me. I especially look when I am in the top 5 of the race. I want to see who I need to catch in order to improve my place. So when you hear the second place runner say she didn't see anyone you have to wonder.
So now I ask the question what should be done? I am sure this is not the first time someone has cheated in a race, and I am sure it won’t be the last. In other sports you can suspend an athlete from so many set games as a punishment, but running is so much different. Each race is ran by a different sponsor and they are not connected in any way. You can run the New York marathon with major sponsors one week and the next week you can be doing a small market race with little sponsorship. I mean you really can’t blackball a person from competition, so it’s almost like this person is going to walk away with a slap on the wrist. She will have her name kicked through the mud and we will all say how what she did was wrong, but if you were running a marathon next week and this lady was standing next to you there is a 90 percent chance you wouldn't even know it was her. She will probably be banned from that one race, because let’s face it there isn't much more that can be done. What she did is not only morally wrong but it is disrespectful to every runner out there. It is a slap in the face to all of us who train year round and work our ass off to cross the finish line. Most of us will never get to know the feeling of crossing the finish in line in first place. Most of us know running is not about winning the race, it’s about the journey that gets you to the race and the race itself. It’s about hitting the wall at mile 20 and still powering through it to the finish. It’s about running next to a person who is struggling and giving them some words of encouragement to keep going. It’s about crossing the finish line and knowing you earned that medal they put around your neck. It’s not about cheating.