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One-third of all Mexico City marathon participants disqualified after some allegedly hop on vehicles to avoid parts of the grueling race
Runners in the XL Telcel 2023 Mexico City Marathon. (Photo by Gerardo Vieyra/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

One-third of all Mexico City marathon participants disqualified after some allegedly hop on vehicles to avoid parts of the grueling race

More than one-third of all the registered participants in this year's XL Mexico City Telcel Marathon were later disqualified after officials learned they had not actually run the entire race.

Like all marathons, the XL Mexico City Telcel Marathon is a grueling 26.2-mile foot race. This particular race is held annually in Mexico's capital city and attracts elite athletes from across the globe. In fact, organizers of the event have even described it as "the largest athletic event of national importance" in Mexico. The marathon also has Gold Label status with World Athletics, an international organization that often sets standards for athletic competitions.

So it's no surprise that on August 27, approximately 30,000 runners showed up at the starting line of the Mexican marathon. Though few participants likely believed they had a chance of actually coming in first place, all who crossed the finish line were guaranteed a finisher's medal, no small token for such a challenging feat.

To ensure that all finishers earned their medals, they were first suited up with tracking devices before the race began. Then, during the course of the race, they passed through a checkpoint every three miles or so, according to Marca, which recorded their presence and kept them honest.

Or rather the checkpoints kept some runners honest. After the race was over, event organizers received several anonymous tips that some participants had completed the course the easy way — by hopping into private vehicles or onto public transportation to avoid having to complete the entire race on foot.

An investigation into the data collected through the tracking devices determined that 11,000 participants never crossed all the official checkpoints and were therefore disqualified.

"The Mexico City Sports Institute informs that it will proceed to identify those cases in which participants of the XL Mexico City Marathon Telcel 2023 have demonstrated an unsportsmanlike attitude during the event and will invalidate their registration times," said a statement from the marathon's organizers.

"This great event not only represents an outstanding celebration for all the inhabitants of the capital, but also an occasion to reaffirm the transcendental values of sport," the statement added.

Outlets have reported that some disqualified participants have claimed that their tracking devices were not functioning properly and that their times had therefore been invalidated unfairly. However, none of the outlets gave the names of those making these claims, nor did the outlets quote any of the disgruntled runners directly.

This is also not the first time that event organizers have had to disqualify participants in the Mexico City marathon. In 2017, officials determined that 20% of the group that year, or about 6,000 runners, had not run the full course and were therefore disqualified.

XL Mexico City Marathon Telcel 2023 was the 40th anniversary of the celebrated race. And even though 11,000 participants had their times invalidated for alleged cheating, there were still some 19,000 whose times could be officially confirmed. Of those 19,000, Hector Garibay of Bolivia won the men's race with a time of 2:08:23, while Celestine Chepchirchir of Kenya won the women's division with a time of 2:27:17.

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