Ultrarunner Kelly Agnew, 45, has been disgraced and stripped of his titles after an investigation by event officials revealed that he had hidden inside porta-pottys to win races.
Agnew had one the last four 48-hour Across the Years ultramarathons since 2014, when he was the first to run 201.5 miles within the allotted time, but event officials have disqualified and banned him from all future races for cheating. According to a Facebook post by event organizers, Agnew was seen “registering laps without running the complete loop of the course,” instead hiding inside a port-a-potty for seven minutes before getting out to cross the start/finish mat. The experienced runner would apparently time his breaks in the toilet to keep his mile pace consistent.
Across the Years officials became suspicious of Agnew after he won the 2015 48-hour ultramarathon by more than 55 miles, despite the fact that he had stopped running after 41 hours, 7 before the race ended. This year, they hired Mark Melton, of MCM timing, to track Agnew during the multi-day looped course in Phoenix and found that he was not a superhuman runner at all, he was just really good at cheating.
“He was witnessed circling back at the start/finish staging area after completing a lap, spending over 7 minutes in a portable restroom and then ‘completing’ the lap and going on for his next without actually running the mile plus loop,”organizers wrote in the Facebook post.
Event officials took immediate action by approaching Agnew and telling him to turn in his racing bib. They then announced that they were rescinding his titles from the four other races where he missed specific check-in points and banned him from all future events.
“It saddens us to see this take place at an event that is centered around camaraderie among runners and support of top performances,” the Facebook post stated. “This type of cheating is not tolerated by our race or race organization. At this point in time, Kelly will not be welcome back to participate in races organized by Aravaipa Running. We would now like to take this time to recognize the new podium placings of our past events.”
“These runners worked hard in their legitimate runs, and we are sorry that this was not found out sooner so you could receive the recognition you deserved at the time. We will be recommissioning awards for the following runners to be sent out soon.”
Derek Murphy, a business analyst who runs the blog marathoninvestigation.com, which busts cheating roadrunners, pointed out that Agnew has also missed checkpoints at the Leadville 100 race, and has suspicious times recorded for a number of other events. Murphy reported that one sponsor so far has dropped Agnew.
Agnew himself has yet to address the issue.