The 2023 Austin Marathon took place on Sunday, but the biggest story to come out of the race is not one of triumph or success, but instead one of disruption and annoyance. Influencer Matt Choi of Gaithersburg, Md., upset many of his fellow runners as he attempted to get the best footage possible for his social media. A two-person camera crew reportedly followed Choi on ebikes for much of the marathon, weaving in and out of race traffic with disregard for other runners.
Instagram influencers ruin everything. pic.twitter.com/NEYHtqROio
— Derek Murphy (@MarathnInvestgr) February 19, 2023
Choi’s camera crew
Derek Murphy of marathoninvestigation.com posted a note he received from an Austin Half-Marathon finisher who saw Choi and his team on the race course. “[Choi] and his crew totally ruined the race experience with his media-circus-posse,” reads the message. This runner said Choi had crew members following him on a regular bike and an e-bike, both filming all the way. While they noted that the cameraman on the ebike was “no big deal” and mostly remained off the course, the person on the ebike repeatedly rode onto the course, blocking and cutting off other runners in order to get the best shots of Choi.
“Not only is this dangerous, but it is also extremely inconsiderate,” wrote the runner. They added that they even approached Choi and his team and asked them to stop disrupting the race, “but this request was ignored.”
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This is not the first time that Choi has come under fire for race day antics. In fact, this incident in Austin marks the second time that he has upset the running community this year. His first offence came in January, coincidentally at another Texas race, when he ran the Houston Marathon. There, he ran a 2:59:35 (quite a bit faster than his 3:17:54 result in Austin), and he, of course, documented the entire event.
Once again, Murphy of Marathon Investigation got involved, and he noticed that, despite the indisputable fact that Choi raced in Houston (Choi posted multiple videos from the race), there was no record of him in the results. Murphy brought this discrepancy to light, and soon Choi was all over running social media, but not for the reasons he hoped.
Murphy first thought Choi had bandited the race (i.e., he ran it without signing up for the event). However, it was later determined that Choi did, in fact, have a bib, and Murphy concluded that Choi had been a “bib mule,” meaning he had run in someone else’s place and helped them hit a fast time or qualifying standard (which Choi did, as his 2:59 earned him, or the owner of the bib, a spot in the 2024 Boston Marathon). Choi apologized for his actions, claiming he forgot to sign up for the race and wore the bib of a friend who was injured and could no longer run the Houston Marathon.
Regardless of whether Choi intentionally acted as a bib mule in Houston, it was a bad mark on his resume. Now, just a month after that odd and unfortunate event, he is back with yet another strike against him. Choi has yet to respond to the complaints he has received following the Austin Marathon.