Bib Mules: Runners Fed Up with Marathon-Qualifying Cheating Practice

SACRAMENTO -- For this year's California International Marathon to run by the numbers, it'll have to be those numbers pinned to each runner's chests, and not the dollar figures in a Craigslist ad.

"As that number one (Boston Marathon) qualifier, as that Olympic trials qualifier, as a national championship, we take the integrity of our results seriously," race director Eli Asche said.

So seriously that this year CIM organizers have hired Marathon Investigation to make sure the race results are reliable, and they've already caught cheaters -- people on Craigslist trying to sell their bib numbers to other runners.

In one case, someone on Craigslist looking to hire another runner to complete the race for them in a qualifying time -- it's called being a Bib Mule.

"This person was banned for life. They were offered the opportunity to actually reach out back to us to one, show remorse, two, potentially tell us the names of anyone who had reached out offering to bib mule," Asche told FOX40. "We would have then considered reducing the sentence to 3 or 5 years."

This year will be the 10th year Sacramento runner Chris Malenab has tackled the CIM. He's run in the Boston Marathon before too, and he's hoping his result in this year's CIM will qualify him again.

"Three hours is my goal," he said. "We'll find out on Sunday."

To get himself ready, Malenab trained 100 miles a week for seven weeks in a row.

He's known all along that sometimes people will cheat in this, what amounts to a runner's challenge for themselves.

It's not something he spends a lot of time thinking about in those long, lonely miles but he's glad somebody's thinking about it -- and that this year, somebody will be watching.

"It's frustrating at the same time that CIM had to go to those steps to do it. Because you want to believe that everyone is going to be honest and up-front," Malenab said.

Whoever ends up in front, and whoever ends-up with a qualifying time out of this year's CIM, there's an extra step to certain they've really earned it.