2019-08-08 15:19:25 UTC
Rosie Ruiz, Infamous for Cheating 1980 Boston Marathon, Dies at 66
For eight days she was the winner of the 1980 race, until a mountain of evidence proved she had jumped onto the course in the final few miles.
By Roger Robinson
Aug 8, 2019
Rosie Ruiz, whose name is notoriously synonymous with marathon cheating, died on July 8, from cancer, according to an obituary posted by her family in Palm Beach, Florida. She was 66 and known as Rosie M. Vivas.
Ruiz infamously jumped into the 1980 Boston Marathon in the final stretch of the race and claimed the women’s win ahead of the true champion, Jacqueline Gareau of Québec. Runners and fans have always resented that Ruiz basked in acclamation for her supposed come-from-behind victory and refused to admit guilt. Gareau had to cross the finish line with no recognition of her course record time of 2:34:28, or her dominant defeat of the prerace favorite, Patti Lyons of Boston, who was second in 2:35:08.
It was also found that Ruiz began her course-cutting career in her first marathon, New York City in 1979, when she either dropped out, or skipped the course completely, and was seen on the subway to Central Park. She crossed the finish line, receiving medical attention for a supposedly injured ankle, and her bar code was recorded as a finisher. That gave her a Boston qualification for 1980. Her employer, thrilled by her result, paid her expenses to go to Boston.
Doubts quickly surfaced after she finished as the women’s winner in Boston. Her fresh appearance and sweat-free T-shirt did not fit with a hard 26 miles on a sunny day in the mid-70s. In one photo, she ill-advisedly raised her arms in jubilation to reveal totally dry armpits.
In a postrace interview, she seemed astoundingly at a loss of how runners win marathons. “What are intervals?” she responded to television interviewer Kathrine Switzer, when asked about the details of her training. Switzer had commentated on almost the whole women’s race in a golf cart alongside the leaders and was perplexed that she had been calling Gareau as the clear winner over Lyons when she had to leave the course with two miles to go. But in that early development era in women’s marathoning, unexpected new talent was still sometimes emerging, and few wanted to condemn Ruiz outright without due process.