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Rosie Ruiz, the most infamous Boston Marathon cheater, dies at 66

Rosie Ruiz famously jumped onto the 1980 Boston Marathon course and claimed victory over Canada's Jacqueline Gareau. Eight days later she was stripped of her title and disqualified, but never admitted to having cheated

Rosie Ruiz, who famously cheated in order to win the 1980 Boston Marathon, died last month at the age of 66, according to LetsRun.com. She had been battling cancer for 10 years.

Ruiz gained notoriety when, after being named the winner (with an unlikely time of 2:31), it was determined that she had cheated, jumping into the race half a mile from the finish line. She was stripped of her so-called victory eight days later and disqualified, and the real winner, Jacqueline Gareau of Quebec, was given the title.

Jacqueline Gareau winning the women’s race at the 1980 Boston Marathlon in a time of 2:34:28
Credit: Courtesy of Jacqueline Gareau


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In the 2017 film Boston: The Documentary, commentator Kathrine Switzer (the first woman to run Boston with an official number, in 1967) and 1980 men’s winner Bill Rodgers¬†claimed they were immediately suspicious of Ruiz, since film crews had not seen her on the course and she did not have the appearance of someone who had just run a fast marathon. (She also didn’t know what intervals were, when asked about her training.) Several witnesses saw her jump out of the crowd onto the course. But Ruiz never admitted to having cheated, always insisting she had won fair and square. She was discovered to have also cheated at the previous year’s New York Marathon, taking the subway to the latter part of the course.

An online obituary refers to Ruiz as Rosie M. Vivas. She was born in Cuba, emigrating to the US at age eight and spending most of her life in Florida. It describes her love of music and her various careers. There is no mention of the Boston Marathon.