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Rosie Ruiz: Wikis


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Rosie Ruiz Vivas (born 1953, Havana, Cuba) is a Cuban American who on April 21, 1980 ostensibly came in as the first place female competitor in the 84th Boston Marathon, but was later stripped of her title when it was found that she had cheated.

The race

Ruiz appeared to complete the marathon with a record time of 2:31:56.[1] Race officials later determined that she had not run the entire 26.2-mile course but instead had registered for the race and later jumped in from the crowd and sprinted to the finish.[2]

There was suspicion from the beginning, as no one had seen her running earlier in the race, she did not appear in videotape footage, and some members of the crowd reported witnessing her run into the race in the last mile.[3] Some female competitors thought it was odd when, asked what she had noticed about Wellesley while running through it, she did not mention the students of Wellesley College, who traditionally loudly cheer the first women runners as they pass the campus. In addition, her time of 2:31:56 was an unusual improvement, more than 25 minutes ahead of her reported time in the New York City Marathon six months earlier. When asked by a reporter why she didn't seem fatigued after the grueling race, she said, "I got up with a lot of energy this morning."[4] Soon, race officials learned that Ruiz had possibly cheated in the New York marathon in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Freelance photographer Susan Morrow reported meeting her on the subway during the New York race and accompanying her from the subway to the race. She lost touch with Ruiz after that, but came forward when the news of Ruiz's dubious Boston win broke. According to Morrow, she met Ruiz on the subway and together they walked a distance to the finishing area, where Ruiz identified herself as an injured runner. She was escorted to a first aid station and volunteers marked her down as having completed the marathon, thus qualifying her for the Boston Marathon.

Eventually, race officials decided to strip Ruiz of her Boston Marathon title and named Jacqueline Gareau of Montreal, Quebec, Canada the women's winner, with a time of 2:34:28.[5] New York Marathon director Fred Lebow had rescinded Ruiz's 1979 finish earlier that week, determining that Ruiz had not completed her first marathon, either.


Jacqueline Gareau was awarded a winner's medal at a press conference over a week after the marathon. Her medal was bigger than the one that Ruiz had originally received, equal in size to the larger men's medal. (Since the 1980 race, women and men have been awarded medals equal in size.) In 2005, Gareau served as Grand Marshal of the Boston Marathon, and in a special ceremony was allowed to recreate her finish and break the tape.

As a result of the scandal, the Boston Marathon and several other races instituted a number of safeguards against cheating that are still used today. These include extensive video surveillance and the transponder timing RFID system that monitors electronically when runners arrive at various checkpoints on the course. These techniques have been used to identify other would-be cheaters, notably "Jean's Marines", a group of charity runners who were caught cutting the course during the 2005 Marine Corps Marathon.[6]




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