Kendall Schler, who was the first woman to cross the finish line at the GO! St. Louis Marathon over the weekend, had her victory vacated after officials determined the 26-year-old did not run the marathon, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
She is believed to have slipped onto the course after the last checkpoint in an attempt to fool race officials into believing she ran the entire 26.2 miles. Schler also had her third-place finish in 2014 erased.
“It's a difficult situation for everybody, including the people who run a fair race and don't get the recognition they should receive,” said Nancy Lieberman, president of GO! St. Louis. “I said to her, ‘It looks like you perpetrated a fraud.' I have nothing legitimate that says she officially started and ran 26.2 miles in 2014 or 2015.”
Schler qualified for next week's Boston Marathon with her first-place finish, but her spot has been vacated following this week's decision. She will also no longer be allowed to run in any local St. Louis events.
“I said, ‘I'm going to disqualify you in 2014 unless you provide me photos of you along the course,' ” Lieberman said. “I told her if she showed me photos within two hours I'd consider not disqualifying her.”
Lieberman said nothing from Schler's story made sense. Schler had her bib and number on her leg, and it was covered by a shirt, which goes against marathon guidelines. She also told Lieberman she had removed the timing strip from the bib in each of the last two years. There are seven spots along the marathon route where the strip records a time, which includes the starting and finish lines. Lieberman said she did not register a time at any spot.
Andrea Karl, a doctoral candidate at Washington University in St. Louis, should have been the first woman to cross the finish line with a time of 2 hours, 54 minutes and 28 seconds. Unfortunately, she crossed the finish line without much fanfare as she was told another woman had already won.
“There's a euphoria the winner gets, breaking the tape and having the crowd cheer,” Lieberman said. “The true winner did everything right and didn't get her due.”