News & Politics

Marine Corps Marathon 17.75K Winner Crashed the Race

Same thing happened at last year’s 10K race.

Photograph via Shutterstock.

The winner of last Saturday’s Marine Corps Marathon-sponsored 17.75-kilometer race was disqualified for crashing the race and kicked out of all Marine Corps Marathon events for the rest of the year, a marathon spokeswoman says.

Gerardo Avila of Triangle, Virginia, broke the tape at the end of the 11.03-mile course in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 25 seconds. But it turned out he was wearing a runner’s bib registered to Odenton resident Stephen Henry. Avila showed up to the race on Saturday using Henry’s name and represented himself as Henry when race officials interviewed him after he won.

“I guess I am in a lot better shape than I thought I was,” Avila, speaking as Henry, told the race’s website.

Henry will suffer the same punishment as Avila and be barred from participating in any Marine Corps Marathon-related events through the end of 2014, including the flagship race, to which he would have earned an automatic berth if he had actually shown up and run the Saturday’s course. Both Henry and Avila have run the marathon in the past.

As a result of Avila’s disqualification, Springfield resident Jeremy Lynch, who finished more than a minute behind “Stephen Henry” is now recognized as the winner of the 17.75K race. 

The Marine Corps Marathon allows bib transfers for the 26-mile race, but only through official channels. The 17.75K only took 1,775 entrants, 1,749 of whom finished and earned marathon entries.

“They went against our policy on transfers, period,” marathon spokeswoman Tami Faram says. “The Marine Corps Marathon wants people think about sportsmanship and integrity.”

But those admirable qualities might be lacking when it comes to the marathon’s ancillary events. Avila’s and Henry’s dupe is similar to what happened at last year’s 10-kilometer race, when a French competitor bested the 10,000-runner field while using a friend’s bib. He, too, was stripped of his victory.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.