As It Happens

From our archives: Cheating runner Rosie Ruiz stripped of her Boston Marathon medal

In 1980, Rosie Ruiz appeared not only to win the Boston race, but break its women's record. Eight days later, she was declared a fraud. Canadian Jacqueline Gareau was recognized as the true winner.
In this April 22, 1980, file photo, Rosie Ruiz, waves to the crowd, after she was announced winner of the women's division of the Boston Marathon. Ruiz pretended to win by coming out of the crowd about one mile before the finish line. (AP Photo/File) (The Associated Press)

Rosie Ruiz's win at the 1980 Boston Marathon seemed too good to be true -- because it was.

Ruiz was a dark horse who came out of nowhere 35 years ago to beat the favourite in the women's race, Canadian runner Jacqueline Gareau.

It turned out Ruiz didn't come out of nowhere. She slipped out of a crowd, ahead of the race leaders, about a mile from the finish line to take the medal.

She posted a time of 2:31:56 -- an improvement of 25 minutes over the time she posted a few months before in the New York Marathon. And she hardly broke a sweat.

Eight days later, after examining thousands of photos taken on the course, the Boston Marathon took back her medal and awarded it to Gareau.

1980 winner of the Boston Marathon women's division, Jacqueline Gareau, of Canada, better known as the woman who "finished" second to Rosie Ruiz, crosses a ceremonial finish line in Boston Monday, April 18, 2005. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) (Elise Amendola/The Associated Press)

It appeared Ruiz was not simply a cheat. She may have been delusional.

"She was baffled because she thinks she ran the race," Will Cloney, the marathon's director, explained to then-As It Happens host Barbara Frum.

"I'm not a psychiatrist. I'm not a psychologist. I'm not a doctor. I believe that she firmly believes she ran the race. Of course, our evidence would indicate that she did not."

Race authorities in New York revoked her finish in that city's marathon as well. Ruiz, it turned out, had hopped a subway to skip most of the course.

Gareau returned to Boston from Quebec to collect her medal. The marathon organized a mock finish line, so she could break the tape. Her time of 2:34:28 was a women's record. She also served as Grand Marshall of the 2005 Boston Marathon, where she ceremonially broke the tape again.

Ruiz never conceded to cheating in the marathon.

Kendall Schler, 26, is seen moments after crossing the finish line of the Go! Marathon on Sunday, April 12, 2015. Organizers of the St. Louis marathon stripped Schler of her title, saying she had crept onto the course late in the race to make it appear she had run all 26.2 miles. (J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP) (The Associated Press)

And it seems history always repeats itself. Last week, a runner named Kendall Schler pulled a Rosie Ruiz at the St. Louis Marathon, sneaking onto the course at the last minute. She was quickly revealed as a fraud and stripped of her win -- disqualifying her from running in this year's Boston Marathon.


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