Absolutely Appalling

Yesterday, as a family we participated in the MEC Burlington Run Series, Race #1.  The event was held in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area, and had 2 events: the 3.75km and the 10.2km trail runs.  The kids – Mark & Serena – ran the 3.75km distance, and we – the parents – ran the longer event.

You think… a fun Saturday morning run with other families, other runners, out in nature, what possibly could go wrong?

To start, everything went right.  The kids had superb races, both of them taking 3rd place Overall (Male & Female) in the 3.75km distance.  Aimee and I also had great races, although not placing overall, Aimee was 2nd in her age cat (40-49) and I came in 4th in the mens 40-49 category.

Then we got home… and as I am sure just like everyone else we went to check results to see our finishing times, to see our placing in our age category and to see how others with whom we ran also did.

In reviewing the overall results for the 3.75km trail run, there was a significant change… Serena was no longer 3rd overall, she was 5th. Two ladies – Karen and Anne Marie MacDonald, both of Burlington – all of a sudden were listed as 2nd and 3rd, pushing Serena down into 5th.

Something was not right about these two ladies all of a sudden appearing in the results as top3 finishers… couldn’t put my finger on it immediately, but what had to be addressed first was Serena. Imagine receiving a medal, a medal that you thought you earned honestly, a medal that you thought was a true representation of your effort on that day… but then to have the results change results in the meaning of the medal also changing, the authenticity of the medal changing. This did not sit well with Serena, because how does one look at a medal that you thought was true, and was true in one moment – the MEC Race Director herself hung the medal around Serena’s neck – but turns out it isn’t or wasn’t? It would be understandable for Serena to feel as if she took someone else’s medal (again, she didn’t ‘take’ the medal, she received it from the race director… but I hope you can appreciate the interpretation). I had to intervene to help my daughter reconcile what she was feeling, but Serena still struggled emotionally and mentally to reconcile the events of the day. In the meantime, I started investigating the entire affair. What I came to uncover is that adults are absolutely appalling.

I started with the event result website that is used by many large events across North America and beyond: Sportstats.ca. I typed in Karen and Anne Marie MacDonald of Burlington and found the following 1/2 marathon results for these two ladies from last year:

Immediately their results stood out… how did two ladies who run 5km in just under 30mins beat my daughter who easily runs 5km in 23min? Not conclusive on its own, but it made me dig deeper.

The 8th Overall Female in the 3.75km race was Madeline Webb. Sportstats.ca shows that last year Madeline ran the Toronto Waterfront 10km splitting 27:57mins for 5km; but in the MEC race yesterday she ran almost 3mins slower than the MacDonalds? Again, nothing conclusive, but the data is not favoring the MacDonalds – either Karen or Anne Marie – as honest.

The 11th Overall Female in the 3.75km race was Stefanie Goyert. Stefanie had a finishing time of 21:57.6 secs for the MEC event… almost 4mins slower than the MacDonalds. On Sportstats.ca this is where I found the piece of evidence that led to emails to both the MEC Race Director and to the company which did the timing for the MEC race – Speed River Timing – questioning the validity of Karen & Anne Marie MacDonald’s finishing times, hence their podium positions.

On Sportstats.ca, Stefanie Goyert ran a 1/2 marathon time 20mins faster than Karen and almost 30mins faster than Anne Marie.  So how is it that someone who runs so much faster over a distance 5x greater (i.e. in a 1/2 marathon) runs 4mins slower over 3.75km?

It doesn’t add up. It doesn’t add up at all. In fairness, is it possible that Karen & Anne Marie MacDonald improved in the course of the year, and that Stefanie amongst others were all having a bad day? Possible, but everyone having a bad day, a bad race? Unlikely. My daughter has been steadily improving and did not have a bad day or bad race, just the opposite she ran exquisitely and this year is undoubtedly faster than 23mins for a 5km, so after taking these possibilities into account, the finishing results of the MacDonalds cannot be accepted as accurate.

The 17th Overall Female in the 3.75km race was Holly Horton of Milton; based on Sportstats.ca Holly too has a faster 1/2 marathon time than both MacDonalds, and not by seconds but by minutes. The evidence against the MacDonalds became overwhelming.

Its not that these two ladies just ‘took’ 2nd and 3rd place dishonestly. There were in total 204 runners in the 3.75km trail run, and of those there were 127 female runners. By stealing 2nd and 3rd, these two ladies changed the results for everyone… by pushing themselves to the front, they had a cascading effect on results in overall standings, in their age group, across men and women. Point is… this cheating is not without consequences, it is harmful to everyone else that runs an honest race and as a community of runners we have no reason to tolerate this sort of appalling behaviour (especially from fellow adults).

With the recent course cutting by as many as 5,000 runners in the Mexico City marathon, and the others caught cheating in lesser events makes it all that much more realistic that the MacDonalds finishing times are a result of the two of them ‘course cutting’. This is made even more probable by the fact that their finishing times had to be ‘added’ after the race as opposed to simply appearing as a result of crossing the timing mats at the finish line.

I wrote to the Race Director and to Speed River Timing this hypothesis: Karen & Anne Marie MacDonald started with the 10km race runners (the 10km race started 10mins ahead of the start of the 3.75km race and started on the same 3.75km loop), but instead of running the full 10km race course these two ladies proceeded to run only the 3.75km course crossing the finish line within the pack of 3.75km event finishers.  Since the 10km course ran past the finishing line of the 3.75km race before heading out for another 4km loop down the Rail Trail, the MacDonalds could have blended in with the other 3.75km runners, achieving their finishing results without turning a single head anywhere along the way.

The reply from Speed River Timing… they agree!

But that wasn’t the end of it. I am not going to write an entire post because of a couple of boomers desperate to prove that they are healthy, desperate to fool themselves to think that they are winners, willing to lie, cheat, steal from everyone else just so that they can have their moment… what blew my mind was the following (quote from email from Speed River):

“In the 10k, the top 5 women only ran the half course, and we had to go through a full video review to eliminate them so that the actual winners could be recognized.”

“Watching the video review, I was surprised to see runners who had finished going back to the finish line for pictures and blocking the runners coming in, as well as jogging back and re enacting the finish while other runners are still coming in.”

What?  Are you joking?  What a bunch of toddlers!  Adults so desperate for self esteem that they are willing to steal from everyone else at the event just because they need a moment to make themselves feel better?  Toddlers!  I’m being kind… what a bunch of babies!

I don’t buy the line… ‘I didn’t know I was lining up with the 10km runners’, or ‘I didn’t know I wasn’t or shouldn’t have crossed the finish line if I wasn’t going to do the entire race course’?

Really?  Dishonesty flows so deeply within you that common sense doesn’t have a chance?

If you were pulled over by a police officer, you cannot claim not knowing the rules of the road; its no different anywhere else… you want to participate amongst others in this world, then it is your responsibility to learn the rules of engagement, proper etiquette, how to participate. If you want to claim ignorance, fine… then there is only one way to treat you… like a toddler. Which is why this post was needed: to call out all the adults who cheated yesterday at the MEC Burlington Race #1 in Dundas Valley as overgrown toddlers. Grow up before you race again!

You know who were the real mature individuals at the MEC race? All the children who complied with the course, with race etiquette, who ran a true and honest effort and crossed the finish line appropriately.

Children more mature than adults! What a world we live in!

That the timing company manager has to (a) video record the finish line, and (b) has to watch the full length of the finish line video in order to ensure that everyone crossing the finish line is doing it honestly, removing all dishonest (or as many dishonest as they can catch) is appalling.

If these were children, it could be understood that they need to learn, need to be taught how to participate. That these are adults… is ridiculous, and to repeat… appalling.

I am grateful for the timing company to respond to my email because I was able to help my daughter understand how she could be 3rd one moment, and then 5th the next, 5th on paper, but after this review…back to being 3rd! All thanks to a couple of adult women who crossed the finish line taking advantage of a 10min lead start time for the 10km event to move to the front of the pack of the 3.75km event.

One task done, but I am now left with another: having to explain adults cheating to a child? Having to explain adults who are willing to cheat and steal from children? How do I explain appalling behaviour by adults to a child who we are trying to teach that stealing, cheating, lying is not the way to live life?

After reviewing this post with my son – who came 3rd in the 3.75km race and who should not have passed anyone on the course based on his pace, and on the course – he mentioned that he passed a couple of ladies while in the race. At the time, he figured that they must be part of the 10km race. Now thinking about it… and doing the running/pace time math… its clear that there is no possible way that these two ladies could have completed the entire 2km side loop that the 10km runners had to do off the 3.75km main loop with only a 10min lead.  My son ran the 3.75km trail run in just over 15mins… if these two ladies did in fact do the proper 10km loop, then (a) there is no way my son should have passed them because they would have been running a faster pace then him, and (b) these ladies should have been behind my son, not in front!

Additional race results – Bay City St Patricks Day 5km, March 2018 – have the MacDonalds finishing in times that make it next to impossible for them to have finished with the times they posted at the 2018 MEC Burlington Race #1: