Running News

Boston marathoners discover bib fraud in race photos

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Once Boston Marathon photos became available online, runners searching their bib numbers were surprised to find other runners with their bibs.

Kara Bonneau received a link from MarathonFoto to view her race pictures. The company sorts pictures by bib number. Once Bonneau searched her bib number 14285 she was surprised to find the faces of four strangers.

How did she feel? “Outraged!” she says. “I worked really hard to earn that spot, and have several friends who qualified but weren’t able to register because there were more qualified entrants than spots. I was especially infuriated to see photos of those runners posing with finisher medals that really did not belong to them. I also felt really naive because I made it pretty easy for them to do this by posting a photo of my bib on social media, but it never would have occurred to me that someone would do that.”

Michael Sullivan’s bib was also ripped off. He posted on facebook, along with a photo: “This 10055 is counterfeit. I am 10055.” A Boston Marathon database search confirms that bib number 10055 belongs to Michael Sullivan.

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Bonneau sent a message to the Boston Marathon Facebook page. They responded: “Unfortunately, this is a habit of individuals who decided to go outside of the normal lines of registration. There is little we can do, other than to send a message of deterrence.”

For now, she says she wants to find out who they are,and hopefully get them banned from future races.

“I also really wanted to get this story out there because I see photos of race bibs online all the time,” Bonneau says. “I would like others to know that this could happen and think twice about what they are making publicly available online. I know I certainly won’t be posting any bib photos before races again.”

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12 replies »

  1. And that’s where running is these days…glad I ran marathons in the 70s and 80s. No one would ever think about doing this then

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    • So there weren’t any bandits back then? I find that hard to believe.

      We know that runners back then weren’t above taking the subway to finish.

      It was always better back in the good ol’ days.

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      • Let’s see…less that 1,500 in 70s up to less than 10,000 through late 80s- 35,000 this year. Yes, I think bandits matter more when there are thousands of runners using up water/etc/ at aid stations and making race course personnel wait for them to cross the line. Where’s the victory in that if you aren’t official?
        I do however remember Rosie Ruiz- let’s hope that these “runners” are treated the same way she was. Shunned by their peers who did it the “right” way.
        And yes….the good old days of running (really racing and running) were golden!

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  2. I have been told there is always a large group of bandits that start at the back of the pack since they could not make the time limits they say it is tradition

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  3. Bandits are a tradition at Boston, however ripping off someone’s earned # is low, very low. I’ve earned my way into the race 9 times and I would be irate if someone did this. Can anyone read the what’s on the blue jersey worn by the male runner? The running store in St. Louis says it has no knowledge of the women wearing their singlet.

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  4. Atleast the guys who copied my bib were in the 4th wave. I guess they weren’t too ambitious!
    The BAA will need to do something. They don’t let runners take bags to Hopkinton but they will look the other way for bandits? Maybe random scans of the bar code or adding a QR code that they can scan from the side of the road.

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