14 August 2019, 1pm
She did not look the part as she crossed the finish line, without showing the least sign of distress, in 2:31:56 – well ahead of the race favourite Jacqui Gareau of Canada.
Gareau protested that she had not been overtaken during the race by any other female. Testimony from spectators who had seen Ruiz ‘jump in’ to the race only a few hundred metres from the finish soon made it look like a clear case of cheating. But this was after she had been ‘crowned’ with a laurel wreath and presented with a winner’s medal.
She basked in her ‘victory’ during a TV interview and some reporters ran with the story that a new marathon star was born. Others were unconvinced. Even for just a two-time marathon finisher she was totally ignorant about the sport – even what shoes she wore (“Brookes Brothers” rather than Brooks the athletic brand).
Then a photographer came forward who had travelled with Ruiz on the New York Subway during her purported participation in the race a few months previously (in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon). In a tradition started in the early Olympic Games Marathons (1806, 1904) she had taken a ride for most of the route and covered only the last few hundred metres of the race, then acted out the same deceit in Boston.
It took a week before Boston Marathon organisers awarded the victory to Gareau but Ruiz would not admit her guilt and never returned her medal.