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Runners Banned from Marine Corps Marathon for Common Practice

Marine Corps Marathon 1775
Photo courtesy of the Marine Corps Marathon.

Honor, Courage, and Commitment run deep in the Marine Corps and those values extend to runners who participate in the Marine Corps Marathon Series.

It’s not an usual practice with runners. Injuries happen and life gets in the way, so participants trade bibs. Some even sell bibs. Of course this is all frowned upon by event organizers, but many continue the practice anyhow.

Until now, where the Marine Corps Marathon has not only exposed the winner for trading the bib, but the fact that he impersonated the individual whose name was tied with it.

The Marine Corps Marathon originally posted an interview with the first and second place finishers if the 17.75K Prince William Forest Park Run:

“I guess I am in a lot better shape than I thought I was,” Henry joked as he completed the 17.75K, named for the founding of the United States Marine Corps. “It was challenging and very tough but I really enjoy it,” he added. Henry, 38, is a retired Infantry Soldier and five-time Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) finisher who previously completed the Marathon while a member of the U.S. Army’s elite running team.

Finishing just over a minute behind was Jeremy Lynch, 33 of Springfield, VA, who placed second (1:05:08). “This is one event that captures the essence of the Marine Corps because it’s one where you have to take hill after hill and meet the challenge just like a Marine,” said Lynch.”

Turns out that “Mr. Henry” didn’t win the race after all, and Gerardo Avila did. In a press release issued today, April 16, 2014,

“Steven Henry, 38, of Odenton, MD, was named the overall finisher completing the Marine Corps 17.75K in 1:04:25, but Henry gave his official runner’s bib to Gerardo Avila of Triangle, VA.

Henry, who registered on Feb. 19 for the Marine Corps 17.75K, illegally transferred his entry to Avila in direct violation of MCM policy. Avila, participating under the name of Henry, was the first runner to complete the 11.03 mile course and was appropriately recognized as the winner. In post-event interviews, Avila misrepresented himself as Henry. Avila completed the MCM in 2001 and 2009, where he placed 7th overall in the Marathon. Henry completed the 2007 MCM.

As a result of their disregard for event registration policy and blatant misrepresentation, both runners will be punished. The MCM is prohibiting Henry and Avila from participating in the 39th MCM occurring on Oct. 26 and in any MCM event through the remainder of this year.

“Illegal transfers of bibs have significant ramifications including potentially altering age award results but more significantly, should a bandit runner require medical attention during the event, medical personnel would not have necessary information about that individual,” says MCM Director Rick Nealis. “Participation in any MCM event echoes the U.S. Marine Corps values of honor, courage and commitment. What these two runners did defied these ideals. They badly misjudged the conviction of the Marines, our commitment to these core values and the integrity of our sport.”

Lynch is now being credited as the overall winner of the 17.75k race.

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