238. The Marathon Cheater

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The 2007 Berlin marathon for males over 55 was unusual in that the winner cheated. "Hank" skipped two checkpoints during the race. The electronic tracking chip that all runners must wear confirmed that Hank had run only 17 miles of the 26-mile marathon. Instead of confessing, Hank let race organizers discover the facts by themselves. He accepted the cheers and winner's trophy. He wasn't officially disqualified until the following day. Race organizers were angry that Hank, who was a well-known but retired politician in his native country, had accepted the winner's trophy. "He disgraced himself and his country," said one race official.

Hank later told the media that he had never intended to run the whole Berlin marathon, as he was still tired from the San Diego marathon he had run two months earlier. Hank's San Diego marathon time was just under 4 hours; his Berlin time was little more than 2 hours. Asked why he had held his arms up high as if he was the winner at the finish line, Hank said, "Everyone does that. This was my fifth marathon this year. I knew the computer chip would detect my shortcut. The organizers need to lighten up; it's only a race."

Hank crossed the finish line wearing a floppy hat, a long-sleeved T-shirt, long pants, and a huge grin. He looked as cool as a cucumber, said a suspicious photographer. The other early finishers in the over-55 group crossed the finish line wearing sweaty T-shirts and nylon running shorts. None of them were grinning.


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