The Marathon Community Is Not Happy with This Blogger

She received a lifetime ban from the Boston Athletic Association.

In 2014, Gia Alvarez qualified for the Boston Marathon, but skipped the race due to a recent miscarriage. The next year, pregnancy kept her from the starting line. Now, she’ll never get the chance to see what she missed.

Alvarez, who writes the popular running blog Run Gia Run, is at the heart of a running community scandal. It all started last year, when she decided to give her unused bib to a friend, who had not qualified for the race.

Her friend proceeded to run Boston, finishing fast enough to qualify Alvarez—the runner who, as far as the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) knew, was associated with that time—for this year’s marathon. When Alvarez tried to register for the 2016 race, an anonymous tipster informed the B.A.A. that she had not, in fact, been the one who ran in 2015. The organization proceeded to ban the blogger from the race, for life.

The issue may seem inconsequential to non-runners, but the marathon community has been abuzz since Alvarez, a New Jersey resident, blogged about her ban on April 3, then posted an apology on April 6. The story was picked up by the blog Marathon Investigation, and by publications like Women’s Running and Canadian Running.

Some commenters have sympathized with Alvarez, noting that gifting bibs is fairly common—albeit typically not in races as strict as the Boston Marathon—even though it’s technically against race rules. Others, however, have been a bit less understanding.

“Gia rec’d her death sentence because she did the unforgivable. How dare her [sic] use someone else’s finishing time as her own,” wrote one commenter on the Marathon Investigation post. “What Gia did was spit on all the hard work of EVERYONE who has accomplished the feat.”

If nothing else, the incident proves that marathon runners are serious about their qualifying times.