Frank Meza, 70, of Pasadena, California ran a 2:53:10 at the L.A. Marathon in March, a time that is faster than Ed Whitlock’s M70 world record by over a minute. His record wasn’t ratified, as the L.A. Marathon is a point-to-point race and therefore not record-eligible. But moreover, Meza is facing scrutiny for course-cutting on multiple occasions, including his record-breaking run.
Derek Murphy of Marathon Investigation has followed Meza’s results and reported that he suspects Meza cut the L.A. Marathon course.
Murphy writes, “Frank was shown entering The LA Marathon course from a sidewalk prior to the 20 kilometer timing mat. Despite Frank’s claim that he only exited the course once for a few seconds ‘to pee,’ the evidence showed that Frank did not appear on the course prior to the location that he emerged,” implying that he exited the course and took a shortcut.
Murphy further argues that, “It is not a coincidence that his times were less than a minute better than Gene Dykes’ unofficial record set at The Toronto Marathon. I don’t believe this is the case of someone cutting a course and mis-calculating and setting a record time.” Meza was disqualified from both the 2014 and 2016 California International Marathons and subsequently banned from the race.
There’s also evidence that Meza cut the course at the 2019 Spouts Phoenix Marathon, hitting each mat in a believable time but disappearing from photographs in between mats. Murphy writes, “When I report on more of Frank’s results the pattern will become even more clear. Whenever Frank’s pace can be verified through course photos or video, his pace is significantly slower than his official splits.”
Meza, whom we reached by phone, insists that he has never intentionally broken the rules. “I took up running for fun. What I can tell you is that I did not cut. My last few marathons I have had to step off the course, looking for a place to pee. I didn’t know this was against the rules, I was not aware of that. I’ve done this several times. I’ve realized my problem is that I don’t hydrate properly. I have never cut the distance but I have stepped off of the course.”
When asked about his CIM disqualification, Meza says, “I was disqualified five years ago from the CIM. They told me that I’d run a 36-minute 10K to finish the race. I said that I hadn’t done that and I agreed with them and said that they should disqualify me. If there’s any doubt, disqualify me. I run for fun.”
He continues, “The next time I run a race I will use a Garmin. I’m pretty old school so I hadn’t used Garmin or Strava before, but I won’t ever run a race without it again. This is not my job. I don’t get paid for it. A lot of people don’t even know I’m a runner. I do this for fun, and right now this isn’t fun. Once I get over the shock and awe of all of this I would like to get back to my training.”
The record that Murphy is referring to is Gene Dykes’ unofficial M70 world record from the Jacksonville Marathon in December 2018. Dykes ran a 2:54:23 in Florida, and was under the impression that he’d broken Whitlock’s record by 25 seconds. However, Dykes posted on Facebook several weeks later that the course wasn’t USATF sanctioned, and therefore wasn’t record eligible.
Dykes has since gone on to set multiple US M70 records, including the 100-mile and 12-hour records. As for Meza, he will reportedly have a supervisor if he runs the L.A. Marathon again, to ensure he completes the course. For now, it seems that Whitlock’s record remains safe.