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Record Run at LA Marathon Was Actually 'Impossible'

Frank Meza, 70, disqualified for cheating
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2019 9:50 AM CDT
Runners take part in the Los Angeles Marathon on March 24, 2019.   (David Crane/The Orange County Register via AP)

(Newser) – It was a record-setting run—until it wasn't. Frank Meza, a 70-year-old who logged an impressive time of 2:53:10 at the Los Angeles Marathon in March, has been disqualified after cameras caught him violating a couple of rules, per the Los Angeles Times. As pointed out by Marathon Investigation, cameras showed the retired doctor leaving the 26.2-mile course, then reappearing further along the route. "The video evidence is confirmed by a credible eyewitness report and our calculation that Dr. Meza's actual running time for at least one 5K course segment would have had to have been faster than the current 70-74 age group 5K world-record"—what would have been "an impossible feat during a marathon," organizers say. They note Meza also wore his numbered bib on his hip, rather than his shirt, raising the possibility he handed it off to another runner for part of the course.

Meza crossed the finish line more than an hour ahead of the next finisher in his age group, who came in at 4:10:07, per People. But Meza claims he's no cheater. He tells the Times he temporarily left the course and walked along a sidewalk in search of a restroom. He tells Marathon Investigation he returned to the course after peeing on a building wall 20 yards from the street, though the site disputes that account based on the photo evidence. Meza was previously banned from Sacramento's California International Marathon after recording irregular interval times in 2014 and 2016. His time of 2:52:47 at the 2015 LA Marathon, run in record-breaking heat, also raised suspicions, with officials asking that he run the 2016 marathon with an official observer. He instead sat out, but he says he'll meet organizers' demands in 2020. His goal: to prove he can finish, legitimately, in less than three hours. (Read more marathon stories.)

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