THE Boston Marathon is the Vatican of running.
But there’s this Boston Marathon infamy that had just resurfaced following the death of Rosie Ruiz, who faked her 1980 victory.
The obituary of her July 8, 2019 death skipped mention of her Boston Marathon gobbledygook. She died of cancer at age 66.
How did she “win” marathon’s Mt. Everest?
The AP’s Jimmy Golen and Rhonda Shafner wrote:
“An unknown who didn’t look or act like she had just run 26.2 miles, Ruiz finished first in the women’s division in Boston in 1980 in a then record time of two hours, 31 minutes and 56 seconds. Even as she was awarded her medal and the traditional olive wreath, her competitors wondered how a woman they hadn’t heard of—or seen on the course—could have won.”
Interviewed following Ruiz’s death, Bill Rodgers, the 1980 men’s champion, said: “It’s a colorful part of the Boston Marathon history, that’s for sure.”
Rodgers said he was immediately suspicious of the woman sitting next to him on the awards podium.
“She wasn’t sweating enough,” Rodgers said. “She had on a heavy shirt. She didn’t know about running.”
How was Ruiz’s cheating uncovered?
“Race organizers used spotters then to scribble down the bib numbers of runners going by. Ruiz did not show up there, on videotape or in any of 10,000 photographs taken along the first 25 miles of the course,” AP said. “When grilled by the Boston Athletic Association, she had incoherent answers, could not identify landmarks she would have passed on the course.”
Finally, Ruiz was stripped of her title when two Harvard students said they saw her join the race near Kenmore Square, about a mile from the finish.
Further investigation showed she took the subway during the 1979 New York Marathon to obtain her qualifying time for Boston.
Ruiz, a Cuban, never returned the medal. And Canadian Jacqueline Gareau, who became from second to champion, received a substitute medal.
“She was a loving person, studied music (piano) but never admitted (her cheating),” said Gareau. “I would not like to be in her place.”