Officials weigh measures to curb cheating at Mexico City Marathon
MEXICO CITY -- Following reports that more than 5,000 runners were disqualified at the 2017 Mexico City Marathon for not completing the race or other irregularities, officials are analyzing ways of avoiding a similar outcome at this year's event, Mexico City Sports Institute director Horacio De La Vega told ESPN Mexico.
The starting line for the Aug. 27 race, which winds through much of Mexico's historic capital city, featured close to 29,000 runners.
One of the new measures in place, according to De La Vega, is not handing medals over to runners until after confirming that they did not take a detour or any other anomaly from the established race course, a measure that could take several days.
"We are not handing over any medals at the end of the marathon, until we have thoroughly reviewed that [all runners] have completed the full race course and we are able to certify it. That's when we will hand over the medals," De La Vega explained.
De La Vega believes that one of the major reasons for concern is runners' desire for completing the word "Mexico." Since 2013, the medals feature a different letter from the word. This year's event will complete the letter "O."
"There's a few things left to figure out, this is the marathon's final year and I'm sure that if we didn't have that letter strategy in place using the word 'Mexico,' this situation would not be a concern to us. Even with the world's finest marathons, you can see plenty of disqualified runners and several others not completing the course. However, people here are crazy for getting that 'O' letter [on a medal]," De La Vega said.
More than 300 runners are banned from signing up for this year's marathon, largely because of irregularities mostly with faked registrations.
"What we are looking to avoid is having runners getting into the race at half-course and stepping into the finish line and grabbing a medal, since it's worth making the effort of running all 42 kilometers and 195 meters. It's worth the effort, dedication which comes with running the full course. There are many others who have run with two or three registration numbers simultaneously. We have banned them and they will not run the 2018 race. We have already notified them and we keep them in our database so they cannot sign up for this year's marathon," De La Vega said.
The official also stated that not all bans are the product of not running the full course; it is simply the case of some participants who did not finish by not completing the course and not crossing the finish line.
"There are approximately 4,200 disqualified runners for not doing the full course. Many runners did not complete the course for many reasons, they started the race but did not finish it, so it isn't a case of banning all runners who did not finish the race," De La Vega said.
This year's Mexico City Marathon will be held on Aug. 28.