The woman who stole another runner’s race bib to participate in a Disney race over the weekend captivated the attention of those in the running community earlier this week. She has, for many, become a most despised villain. 

The runner who nabbed another competitor’s bib finished her race to find herself surrounded by Anaheim police within moments after crossing the line. She had intentionally run the course after taking the bib which was paid for by another runner. Unfortunately for her though, she was found out. What’s more is that this isn’t the first time she has sneakily run with another’s number. As we initially reported, this runner appears to have a history of stealing other people’s bibs at runDisney events.

RELATED: Police confront suspected bib thief at Disneyland 10K

Luckily though, the running scene has a very savvy investigator adamant to win in the war against cheaters. He has taken this on nearly single-handed researching race statistics and digging into results that look fishy. Derek Murphy acts as a sort of whistler blower for those who cheat in races, enter onto courses dishonestly, or fudge any part of their application or results. His website, Marathon Investigation, is where he goes public with his findings. And trust us, some of his reports have caused quite the stir.  

As for the Disney race thief, as she has now been dubbed, Murphy has actually pointed out that this woman had pulled a similar stunt at the Tinkerbell Half-Marathon. Then, he listed other races where she had taken other people’s bibs– which are essentially a runner’s ticket to the start line.

Now, Murphy, who has his niche investigations pretty much down pat at this point, has revealed how he went about catching this “bib thief.” Here was his process broken down into 10 steps. 

  1. Murphy reaches out to Kelly Delaney, a member of runDisney community on social media. He contacted her in search for photos of the culprit. This is his first step in identifying the person who stole Melissa Martin Mayorgas. 
  2. Delaney finds the photo and notices it looks like “Patty” the bib thief from the Tinkerbell 10K. Murphy agrees but needs a better quality image to compare. 
  3. He does more reaching out and gets a high resolution of the photo from the weekend and realizes that the person who stole the Disneyland 5K bib and the Tinkerbell bib were the same runner. Some key details like her watch, earrings and mole on her cheek are dead giveaways. 
  4. When identifying the runner, he then contacts Melissa (the woman whose bib was stolen) and other runners in the community made Run Disney aware. He asks that things be kept quiet on social media though so that the bib thief doesn’t find out. Run Disney forms a plan to catch her at the finish line. 
  5. Some runners from Delaney’s network agree to keep an eye out for her and then trail her during the race. They even locate her Instagram where she has posted outfits – Incredibles and Toy Story themed – but the account goes private before the actual race. 
  6. They form a group of three runners who aim to watch for her on the course in the event that she manages to escape security. They do not contact the runner and are asked to keep everything quiet on social media. 
  7. From afar, the runners and Murphy track her split times while being in contact with security. 
  8. Security is on the ball and spots her as she approached the end of the race. They approach her (as pictured above). Murphy gets confirmation that she was caught. 
  9. She was escorted to her car at which point she was issued improper use of a handicap placard. 
  10. At the end of it all, Murphy notes that she told authorities she purchased the bib online. He speculates that this cannot be true. 

Other notes that Murphy emphasizes are that Patty has not yet been charged but an investigation remains ongoing. She also wasn’t arrested, but detained and escorted to her car. 

To read Murphy’s detailed report from the weekend, see his step-by-step account here


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