Rosie M. Vivas, a Cuban-American fraudster, was crowned the female winner of the 84th Boston Marathon in 1980, only to have her title revoked eight days later when it was determined that she had not completed the entire course.
Rosie Ruiz, a previously unknown runner, ripped the 1980 Boston Marathon to shreds. Rosie appeared out of nowhere to cross the finish line in a world-record time of 2:31:56 and without sweating sweat. She would have appeared like she could run the entire race again if she didn’t already appear to be a marathon runner. Her thighs’ cellulite turned out to be a dead giveaway. Rosie truly appeared out of nowhere. Rosie couldn’t remember any of the other racers’ names, and she couldn’t recall little details like her split timings, course scenery, or enormous crowds of people applauding. Aside from that, her strategy was faultless.
John Faulkner and Sola Mahoney, two Harvard students, recalled witnessing Ruiz emerge from a mob of onlookers on Commonwealth Avenue, half a mile from the finish line. Susan Morrow, a freelance photographer, met her on the subway during the New York City Marathon and accompanied her from the metro to the marathon not long after.
Ruiz seemed to win the female category of the Boston Marathon on April 21, 1980, with a timing of 2:31:56. Her timing would have been the third-fastest female time ever recorded in any marathon, as well as the fastest female time in Boston Marathon history. Ruiz, on the other hand, was the subject of suspicion virtually from the start. Bill Rodgers, the men’s champion, who had just won his third Boston Marathon in a row, saw that Ruiz couldn’t recollect several things that most runners recall, such as intervals and splits. Ruiz was not sweating or covered in sweat, and her thighs were not as slim and strong as those of a world-class runner, according to other observers. She later revealed the results of a stress test, which revealed that her resting heart rate was 76. The majority of female marathon runners had a resting heart rate of 50 beats per minute or below.
Her time of 2:31:56 was also an unusual improvement, coming in more than 25 minutes faster than her time from the New York City Marathon six months prior.She lost contact with Ruiz after that, but when news of Ruiz’s controversial Boston victory leaked, she stepped forward. Morrow claims she met Ruiz on the train and the two walked together a short distance to the finish line, where Ruiz introduced herself as an injured runner. She was brought to a first aid station, where volunteers recorded her completion of the marathon, qualifying her for the Boston Marathon.
Officials from the New York City Marathon initiated an inquiry but found no trace of Ruiz near the finish line. Ruiz was retroactively disqualified from the 1979 New York City Marathon on April 25, based on this and other evidence, with marathon director Fred Lebow claiming she could not reasonably have completed the entire length.
Ruiz was disqualified from the Boston Marathon later that week by the Boston Athletic Association. While New York’s action appeared to immediately disqualify Ruiz from Boston, officials in Boston wanted to conduct their own investigation before acting. Gareau was proclaimed the female champion, finishing in 2:34:28, the fastest time for a woman in the Boston Marathon at the time.