FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — A New York woman who finished second in the Ft. Lauderdale Half Marathon admitted that she cheated during the race after being caught red-handed by an eagle-eyed internet sleuth.
Jane Seo, 24, was busted by Derek Murphy, a marathon investigator whose mission is to “analyze race results, detect course cutters, bib swappers and other questionable results.”
Data gathered from Seo’s own Garmin 235 fitness tracker proved to be the smoking gun, according to Murphy’s investigation.
Seo initially finished Sunday’s race with a time of 1:21:46, including a 6:15 per mile pace.
However, Murphy noticed a discrepancy in Seo’s course split times when it showed her running the first 10 kilometers at a time of 44:22.
“These results would equate to a 7:09 minute/mile pace for the 1st 10k and a 5:25 minute/mile pace for remaining 11.08 kilometers,” Murphy writes on his investigative blog.
He also found it odd, along with others on his column, that her data was posted manually on the fitness-tracking website, Strava, a social network for athletes, that included only minimal information which was “not linked to any GPS data.”
Seo later posted a complete, GPS-tracked run. But that sent off the investigator’s suspicions even further, suggesting she went back and covered her tracks on a bicycle.
“She had this labeled as a run, and the total time *almost* matches her original time for the 1/2 marathon,” Murphy wrote. “The cadence data is more consistent with what you would expect on a bike ride, not a run. Also, through the Flyby screen, I was able to confirm that she actually covered this course in the afternoon – long after the race was complete.”
He then took a look at her photos after the race.
“I noticed that she was wearing her Garmin 235, and the face was visible. So I purchased the pictures to get a look in high-resolution, and zoomed in,” Murphy said.
It showed 11.65 Total Miles with a 1:22:07 Total Time.
“This shows about 1-1/2 miles were cut. Her total time on the watch is 22 seconds longer than her initial finishing time – showing that she did indeed start the watch when she crossed the starting line,” he concluded. “As anyone that has used GPS technology during a race can attest – typically over a long distance the Garmin data will show a bit longer distance than the actual course distance. This is mainly due to the fact that most don’t run perfect lines and tangents. However, it is clear that the 2nd half of her run was faster than the first 10k.”
Before making her Instagram account private, Seo allegedly fessed up. Murphy said he captured a screenshot of her confession and apology, and posted it.
“I made a HORRIBLE choice at the Ft. Lauderdale Half Marathon on Sunday, Feb. 20. I wasn’t feeling well so I CUT THE COURSE and headed to the finish line,” Seo wrote. “I got swept away in the moment and pretended I ran the entire course, when in fact I CHEATED and should have DISQUALIFIED myself.”
She continued to say that she also “proceeded to BIKE the course afterward with my GPS watch to cover my wrondoings. What an idiot I was!”
Seo was disqualified from the race and kicked off her New York running team, the Dashing Whippets, who released a statement:
“As some of you may be aware, one of our members intentionally cut the course at a Half Marathon this past weekend. The member in question has admitted to cheating, has been officially disqualified from the race, and has apologized to the DWRT Board.”
Murphy isn’t buying the “sick” excuse, either. He posted additional details that included her getting faster in the latter half of the run, as well as photos that seem to show her in good spirits. He also pulled up evidence suggesting she may have faked other runs in the past.
According to her Huffington Post bio page, Seo is a Harvard graduate who wrote a food and travel blog for the website.
The fastest female that day, Ariene Monticeli clocked in at 1:20:19. Jillian Pollack came in second at 1:23:38.