Modern Athlete Mag Issue 155 MA_Issue 155 | Page 23

than an external change to one physique before and after Drummond . One party in this relay team is a Green Number holder , making the duplicity even more disappointing .
The cheater ’ s running club also contacted me after seeing my social media posts about Comrades cheats . They let me know that they had also contacted Comrades directly to inform them of the cheater . I am told that he is a senior manager at a well-known mining company , and is totally unperturbed about his blatant cheating being outed . Also , when it comes to cheating , practice apparently makes perfect , because in a further twist , photographic evidence shows that this pairing ran their qualifier at the Benoni Northerns Marathon as a relay event as well .
The bottom line is that it is incredibly difficult to run a negative split at Comrades , which is where a runner completes the second half of the race faster than the first . The feat is made even more difficult as the ‘ halfway ’ Drummond timing mat is well before the true halfway mark , meaning the second ‘ half ’ of the 2022 Down Run was 2.12km longer than the first . Only 83 runners ( well under 1 % of the field ) managed a negative split , and from the analysis I ’ ve done , 81 are genuine negative splits and two are cheats ( the second is outed in the “ Taxiing & Missed Mats Analysis ” section below ). The table below provides a detailed breakdown of those 83 runners , and as a point of reference as to how hard this is to achieve , only two A and one B seeded runners achieved the feat .


This was the first year that FinishTime was responsible for race day timing and instead of a separate timing chip attached to the shoe , the UHF timing chips were embedded into the race numbers . I wanted to know how accurate these chips are at picking up all 12,000 finishers at every timing point , and the short answer is very effective . There are an incredibly small number of runners , just 229 ( less than 2 % of the field ), who missed a timing mat and ‘ claimed ’ a finish . Also , most of the missing splits occur at the first two mats after the start – 71 at the 5km mark and 139 at Lynnfield Park .
The Math : I calculated the runner ’ s pace over the missed split and then compared it to six other pacing calibrations : 1 . The runner ’ s overall average pace on race day . 2 . The runner ’ s average pace before the missed split . 3 . The runner ’ s average pace after the missed split . 4 . The runner ’ s fastest timed single split on race day ( excluding the first 5km ). 5 . Other Comrades 2022 runners who earned the same medal . 6 . Other Comrades 2022 runners who started from the same batch .
In the table , a green font indicates that the missed mat runners were slower ( and unlikely to be a cheat ) and red indicates that they were faster over the missing split . A runner that ran much faster over the missed split than over the timed portion of his or her race raises suspicions .
Images : Marathonphoto . com and courtesy Stuart Mann , Thabang Selemela
I chatted to Craig Eldridge from FinishTime as to the reason for the large number of missed splits over the first two mats . He explained that the official timing points have two receivers each , but the 5km mat only had one receiver as it was used to get data for the pacing app ( rather than being an official split ). Lynnfield Park was more concerning , as is it appears that there were a couple of brief ‘ dead periods ’ where data was not uploaded to the cloud . Mobile reception in the area is terrible , which might be the cause .
All of the other mats range between just six and 12 missing splits , and this number is even lower when you deduct the cheaters from the equation . As an example of just how low the probability is of missing one of these mats , only eight runners missed Drummond , which equates to a minuscule probability of 0.067 %. The probability of missing more than one mat is even smaller : Of the 229 runners that crossed the finish line and missed a split , the majority ( 207 ) missed one mat , 18 missed two mats , three missed three or four mats , and one person missed all eight .
Analysis of Missed Mats
The good news is that I did not find too many cheats . The even better news is that the suspected cheats are now on the race referee ’ s radar and disciplinary proceedings are in progress . Pending the outcome of disciplinary hearings , I have given code names to runners based on which split they missed and the medal they earned . The finish line mat was live for 10 minutes after the final cutoff , and I have included all runners that crossed the finish line in the analysis .
The most significant pace deviations in detecting potential cheats are the comparisons to the runner ’ s fastest split and to other runners who earned the same medal ( 4 and 5 above ). A large negative deviation means that the runner ran their fastest pace over that missed split and / or was an anomaly when compared to other runners who finished in a similar time . For example , if a runner ’ s missed split was 50 % faster than their next fastest split or other runners who earned the same medal , it ’ s highly probable that they cheated .
Another tool I used was this table showing average pace per double split . This calculated the average pace per batch and medal over two consecutive splits , so that a like-for-like comparison can be done to runners who missed splits . This shows that the segment between the 5km mark and Cato Ridge is