Society

Sleuth Learns Second-Place Half-Marathon Winner Cheated

| by Kathryn Schroeder

A professional food blogger from New York cheated during a Florida Half Marathon, and has had to relinquish her second-place medal.

Jane Seo, 24, a writer for The Huffington Post, finished the race in 1 hour and 21 minutes, for a 6:15-per-mile pace, earning her second place out of the thousands who participated in the marathon, Miami New Times reports. 

But Seo did not play fair -- she cut the course. It was Derek Murphy of Marathon Investigation that uncovered Seo's cheating, by looking at her Garmin watch.

Seo denied cutting the course to race timer Josh Stern after he noticed her timing chip logged faster miles in the second half of the race, which is unusual because runners usually slow down at that time, according to Miami New Times.

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She even posted online data that showed she completed the course, that was labeled as a run and the total time almost matched her time for the marathon, Murphy noted in his post.

He dug deeper into Seo's run time, and confirmed that the data she had shared online was from an afternoon run completed after the marathon. Murphy also noticed discrepancies in her cadence and heart rate -- they were much higher on a previous run she had completed at a slower pace.

By analyzing photos from the marathon, Murphy saw Seo's Garmin watch and by zooming in on it found her total time was 1:22:07 and 11.65 miles. That proved 1 to 1.5 miles were cut during the marathon by Seo, and her total time was 22 seconds longer than her finishing time, meaning she did not start the watch until after she crossed the starting line.

Murphy spoke with Seo the day before he revealed his findings -- she maintained her innocence.

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Seo eventually admitted to cutting the course, and posted an apology to Instagram.

"I made a HORRIBLE choice at the Ft. Lauderdale Half Marathon on Sunday, Feb. 20. I wasn't feeling well so I CUT THE COURSE and headed to the finish line," she wrote in the now deleted post. "I got swept away in the moment and pretended I ran the entire course, when in fact I CHEATED and should have DISQUALIFIED myself."

Seo also admitted to biking the course later with her GPS to cover her "wrongdoings."

"What an idiot I was!" she wrote.

"As I admit to my foolishness, I am extremely ashamed. I sincerely apology for bringing negativity out of the running community that I truly admire and respect. I take full credit for this mistake without any excuses and will face the consequences. I am so sorry, everyone," she ended the post.

Race officials disqualified Seo after reviewing the evidence.

"Had she just admitted what she did, I never would have heard of her, nor written about her," Murphy told Miami New Times. "But going back and biking the course to cover up... that's unheard of.”

Murphy, who is from Ohio, began his website two years ago to investigate claims of malpractice by runners that are trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Sources: Miami New Times, Marathon Investigation (2) / Photo credit: Marathon Investigation

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