Participants in the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) begin the 26.2-mile run in Arlington, Va. (Cpl. Ricky Robinson III / Marine Corps)
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It may be frowned upon by race organizers, but giving entries to friends is nothing new in the running world. After all, signups for races begin months before the actual race giving time for injuries, other plans, forgetting to get in shape and a million other reasons not to run it. When that happens runners often give (or sell) their entries to a friend (or random person on Craigslist, which we do not advise) and both people win: The original registrant gets their money back, someone who didn’t sign up for a race in time gets to run.
(We will say there’s a lot of reasons why this is bad: Security purposes, runner safety, making race organizers’ jobs harder, etc.)
And this usually works because no one asks for identification during the middle of the race from a middle of the pack runner who just finishes the race, grabs a free powerbar and goes home.
Unless, that is, the runner who received the illegally transferred entry wins the race.
Two men are now banned from Marine Corps Marathon events this year after organizers learned the top finisher, Gerardo Avila, at the Marine Corps 17.75K hosted in Prince William County, Va., last weekend illegally transferred his entry from Steven Henry. When Avila won he impersonated Henry in the post-race interviews.
According to the press release sent by Marine Corps Marathon organizers, both men had run the Marine Corps Marathon in the past.
“Illegal transfers of bibs have significant ramifications including potentially altering age award results but more significantly, should a bandit runner require medical attention during the event, medical personnel would not have necessary information about that individual,” says MCM Director Rick Nealis in a statement. “Participation in any MCM event echoes the U.S. Marine Corps values of honor, courage and commitment. What these two runners did defied these ideals. They badly misjudged the conviction of the Marines, our commitment to these core values and the integrity of our sport.”