The strange case of Mexico’s chocolate runners

My resolutely non-running hubby sent me a link to an article in The Economist.

It makes fascinating but quite bizarre reading.

Apparently there is an extraordinarily high percentage of cheating in the Mexico City marathon.

So much so, that there is a delightful expression for the fake runners of this race – “corredores de chocolate”.

Literally “chocolate runners”.

I’m not sure why chocolate, but the fact remains that in the 2018 Mexico City marathon, 5000 of the 28000 race finishers were disqualified, and hundreds more were kicked out mid race.

That is taking cheating to a whole new level.

As a marathoner (YES! How I love saying that!) so, yes, as a marathoner, I really, really do not see the point of cheating.

At our level, despite what we think of ourselves, the brutal reality is that we are all rank amateurs. We are therefore running for ourselves.

For ourselves, I repeat.

To be fit.

To have fun.

Ah, but wait.

I forgot the power of social media.

How silly of me.

“Social media can warp behaviour . Those who broadcast their preparation for the race grow desperate to post a triumphant selfie after it.”

How delusional do you have to be, to think that a selfie justifies cheating? Or, actually, that a selfie is of any importance whatsoever.

How ever many likes you get at the time, in a few minutes the (Insta) news cycle has moved on, and you are already history.

Do people seriously cheat for bragging rights?

If you tell a fellow runner your marathon time, she/he can interpret it and react accordingly. (In my case, being The Slowest Runner on Planet Earth, reactions are always of pity 😛 😛 )

However, from hilarious experience, non-runners by and large do not have a CLUE about a marathon. Neither its distance nor what constitutes an appropriate finish time.

No-one in my husband’s family runs (I live in India, which is why I’m only referencing my Indian husband’s family. In case you wondered.).

At a family dinner last year, a cousin asked me how long a marathon is. When I replied 42.195km, she looked suitably impressed and then asked me how many days it would take me to finish it.

Faced with that level of (in)expertise, why would you feel the need to cheat and fudge your times?!

There is speculation that some runners cheat in order to get a better qualifying time for the super prestigious races like the Boston marathon. But, seriously, why would you do that to yourself? Why set yourself up for further “failure”? If you can’t run fast enough in Mexico, what makes you think you could do a Boston?

I read another article about marathon cheating – not specifically about Mexico – in which one explanation offered by runners who were found to have cheated was that they didn’t want to disappoint their sponsors, especially if they were charity fund-raising. Cheating is still cheating, but this last excuse at least has a modicum of dignity about it.

Back to Mexico. Here are a couple of photos I found online.

First up, a bloke called Maria:

Next, a group of cheerful chappies on the subway. Masks to hide their faces, but some of their bib numbers are still visible, so that’s a bit dumb, isn’t it?

There’s a theory about the medals for the MexicoCity marathon being partly to blame for so much cheating. They have just finished a series in which each year was one of the letters that make up the word “Mexico”, and so people wanted to get the whole series, by hook or by crook, even if that involved cheating.

From 2019, every year the marathon medal will be a different section of the city, and they will eventually all form a map.

Hola, Méjico! I have a suggestion.

Why don’t you stop with the fancy medals (although they do sound great, don’t they?!) and give less desirable ones?

That might make some of the chocolate runners stop taking the subway.

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