St. Louis Marathon officials have stripped the female winner of her title after they discovered that she sneaked onto the course late, making it appear she had run the entire race.
Officials said 26-year-old Kendall Schler joined the race after the final checkpoint, putting her ahead of the more than 500 female runners.
There were already signs that something was amiss with the St. Louis Marathon winner. In pictures afterward she appeared to be nervous, looking solemn or forcing a smile in photographs. Nancy Lieberman, president of the GO! St. Louis Marathon, said there were concerns right away about the St. Louis Marathon winner.
The Associated Press noted some of the oddities:
“Contrary to marathon guidelines, Schler had a bib and number on her leg and covered by a shirt. Schler later admitted she removed the timing strip from the bib each of the past two years to explain why her seven interval times were not registered, Lieberman said. U.S. Track and Field officials on the course also never saw Schler among competitors, and certainly not among the leaders.”
When organizers noticed the string of red flags, Lieberman later asked Schler for a picture of proof that she ran the race at all. Schler never followed up.
“It was kind of a nondescript conversation,” Lieberman said. “Most people, quite frankly, would be defensive, but say, ‘Yes, I really did (run the race).’ I explained I would have to contact Boston and let them know (about the questioned qualifying time), and she wanted to know how she could find out if she can run Boston. That was pretty much the end of the conversation.”
St. Louis Marathon officials have stripped the winner of her title and withheld the $1,500 in prize money she would have received.
It turned out that Kendall Schler had pulled the same stunt last year, though she either timed entry into the race wrong or couldn’t run fast enough. She ended up finishing third.
Lieberman added that she feels bad for the real first-place finisher, Andrea Karl, who didn’t find out until hours later that she was the true winner.
“Imagine thinking you’re in the lead and have the crowd support — all 26.2 miles, the crowd is cheering you on — and there’s no finish line tape when she get to the end,” Lieberman said.
The St. Louis Marathon winner may have looked to history for inspiration for her cheating tactic. In 1980, an unknown runner named Rosie Ruiz jumped out of the crowd near the end of the Boston Marathon, finishing first. But like Kendall Schler, Ruiz made several mistakes and her gambit was uncovered very quickly. Marathon organizers noticed that Ruiz didn’t appear to be sweaty at all, and no one had ever heard of her among the world’s top runners.
[Image via Twitter/@BostInno]