BOSTON — He's the next Robert Cheruiyot, not the next Rosie Ruiz.
Marathon officials said Tuesday that Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot broke no
rules when he popped onto the sidewalk to pass the leaders early in the
race. He also shattered the course record held by four-time winner —
and unrelated — Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot.
"There are no specific
out-of-bounds areas," Boston Athletic Association executive director
Guy Morse said Tuesday, a day after Cheruiyot broke his fellow Kenyan's
record by 82 seconds. "It's not like a tennis match."
Marathon was the site of one of sports' most famous cheating scandals 30
years ago when an unknown named Rosie Ruiz skipped part of the race and
showed up at the finish line to claim victory. But Cheruiyot gained no
unfair advantage from his four-second sidewalk shuffle, Morse said.
wasn't cutting a corner or trying to gain some other advantage," said
Morse, who noted that runners are allowed to leave the course to go to
the bathroom, for example, or if they are sick. "It doesn't affect the
Race referee Steve Vaitones did not immediately respond
to e-mails seeking comment.
Different sports have different rules,
of course, but also different senses of how rules are interpreted and
Just a day earlier, golfer Brian Davis called a
two-stroke penalty on himself in a sudden-death playoff at Hilton Head,
S.C., when he inadvertently hit a loose reed in his backswing —
indiscernible if not for slow motion replays. He immediately conceded
the tournament to Jim Furyk.
But road racing is governed more by
the spirit of the rules, and the primary issue is whether the runner
gained any unfair advantage.
B.A.A. officials didn't have to look
too hard to see that Cheruiyot didn't.
Cheruiyot finished in 2
hours, 5 minutes, 52 seconds — the fastest marathon ever run without a
pacesetter. But Monday night, WBZ-TV aired video of Cheruiyot, hemmed in
by a pack of about 20 runners, hopping over a curb and running on the
sidewalk for about four seconds before popping back onto the street.
was not immediately clear where the incident occurred, but it was at
the top of a hill and probably on the first half of the course, before
the pack thinned considerably. The most distinguishing characteristic of
the location was that there was a man dressed as Santa Claus standing
on the side of the road.
Cheruiyot, who speaks little English,
said Tuesday he was not thinking about anything but getting up the hill
and keeping pace with defending champion Deriba Merga.
"I did not
want to run inside [with] people," he said.
When Ruiz claimed her
victory 30 years ago, race officials were immediately suspicious of an
unknown who ran what would have been the third-fastest time by a woman in
history, and didn't look all that tired or sweaty afterward.
were no such concerns about Cheruiyot.
And, as evidence of their
confidence, they presented him Tuesday with his giant check for $175,000
— the winner's share plus a $25,000 bonus for the course record.
called the race one of their most successful, thanks in part to perfect
marathon weather. Race director Dave McGillivray noted that a life was
saved when a 64-year-old man was resuscitated by fellow runners and
rescue workers after having a heart attack about a mile from the finish.
only flaw was that hundreds of runners — including one of the
contenders — weren't able to make it to Boston because of ash from an
Icelandic volcano that canceled thousands of flights across Europe.
said he wrote himself a note for next year.
"Prepare better for
volcanoes," he said. "I really, really apologize for overlooking that