A marathon runner, who finished second in a half marathon event with a standout time of 1 hour 21 minutes, was later caught cheating and got herself disqualified after being betrayed by her own fitness tracker.
New York food critic and avid marathon runner Jane Seo was found to have cheated in the recently concluded Fort Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon by cutting corners and then manipulating tracking data to cover-up her finish time. Fortunately, an eagle-eyed observer noticed something irregular in the data she submitted and brought her cheating to light.
Derek Murphy, a marathon investigator who exposes race cheating practices, detailed Seo’s deceptive method on how she ended up with a runner-up finish.
In his blog Marathon Investigation, Murphy gave his analysis of Seo’s actual running times supported by data collected from her Garmin 235 fitness band versus her submitted data. According to the report, when Seo logged in her post-race stats from the Fort Lauderdale Marathon, many noticed that the data was manually filled in and no GPS data has been uploaded.
When observers pointed this out, she later submitted another entry via fitness app Strava to prove that she did cover the distance. But while the second submission almost exactly matched the original finish time, Murphy noticed that it did not match the time of the marathon. He then discovered that the new data was completed hours after the race ended.
To double check the data, Murphy then compared the second entry with Seo’s first submitted stats. His findings would later reveal that the second data looked more like cycling rather than running.
As Murphy searched for more clues, he then noticed that Seo’s actual stats were exposed and viewable on her Garmin 235 device in some of her photos taken after the race.
Zooming the photo in, Murphy discovered that Seo finished the race about one and a half miles short of the marathon’s full distance.
Instead of immediately coming clean, Seo even approached the marathon officials to provide her “evidence” that she deserved the runner-up award despite no one contesting her win at that time. Seo would only come forward and admit her errors much later after she became aware of “the extent of the evidence against her.”
After Murphy submitted the additional evidence to race officials, Seo was immediately disqualified.