The telltale watch: Half-marathon runner disqualified following fitness-tracker investigation

A New York food blogger has had her second-place finish in the Fort Lauderdale half marathon scrubbed from history, following an internet investigation that focused on her Garmin Forerunner 235 fitness tracker.

The telltale watch: Half-marathon runner disqualified following fitness-tracker investigation

Jane Seo had finished second in last weekend’s marathon with the incredibly impressive time of 1hr 21mins. But suspicions were aroused when her timing chip revealed that she had sped up in the second half of the race – something that doesn’t usually happen for obvious reasons.

That piqued the interest of the people at Marathon Investigation, which then launched a thorough analysis that culminated in Seo (according to the Miami New Times – Seo’s account has since been deleted) confessing to cutting corners on the course, and then faking GPS data by retracing the route on bicycle.

After purchasing high-resolution photos of Seo on the finishing podium, Derek Murphy of Marathon Investigation was able to zoom in on the runner’s Garmin Forerunner 235 fitness tracker, which showed 11.65 total miles traveled out of the actual 13.1. As a user of Strava, details of past runs were posted by Seo, but her podium-placed performance was surprisingly lacking in detail, just showing the distance and completion time.

She later manually posted a “complete” GPS tracked run, but Murphy was not fooled, cross-checking the new data with past runs on her profile and noting that cadence and heartrate data was inconsistent. “The cadence data is more consistent with what you would expect on a bike ride, not a run,” he wrote.

Seo eventually came clean, posting on Instagram that she had biked the course in order to get realistic GPS data to cover her tracks. “I wasn’t feeling well so I CUT THE COURSE and headed to the finish line,” she wrote on an Instagram post now deleted, but screengrabbed by Marathon Investigation. “I got swept away in the moment and pretended I ran the entire course, when in fact I CHEATED and should have DISQUALIFIED myself.”

“As I admit to my foolishness, I am extremely ashamed. I sincerely apology [sic] for bringing negativity out of the running community that I truly admire and respect,” the post continued. “I take full credit for this mistake without any excuses and will face the consequences. I am so sorry, everyone.”

She would have got away with it too, if it weren’t for that pesky fitness tracker.

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