Archive for Gertrude Cox Scholarship

cheating in long-distance running

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2016 by xi'an

This morning, I was reading at breakfast a NYT article on a presumed cheat by the winner of the 2015 Ironman Canada race, in the category of women ages 40-44… (This gruelling race takes place around Whistler, with a 2.4-mile swim, a 112 mile bike race with a huge differential, and a complete marathon!) Leading to reassess earlier victories by the same runner and ending up by her being barred from running in Ironman and Triathlon Canada races (and loosing her title for the 2015 race as well). This reminded me of Darren Wraith pointing out to me an article in Runner’s World where an independent volunteer was checking times of road-runners across the US towards detecting inconsistencies in split times and between races, or in pictures at alleged split times, eventually exposing a significant number of cheaters that had been undetected by the organisers. While I find the temptation to cheat less of a surprise than the article authors, even when nothing more than local and much temporary fame is at stake, and particularly so when a podium or a selection for a more prestigious race is at stake, the limited involvement of race officials is an issue, given how easy it is to spot those inconsistencies. Actually, it is ridiculously easy to cheat as well: when I ran the last Gertrude Cox scholarship race at JSM in 2009, my wife and I picked our tags together and ended up switching them by mistake. Which made my wife the female winner of the race until I pointed out the switch later that afternoon to the organisers. And spoke with the true winner who was surprised but unsuspecting at not being the winner. This may well be a reason for the phenomenon to be so widespread, namely that it does seem to make sense to try to cheat for a middle-of-the-pack rank, so little sense that one does not bother to voice suspicions to course officials. For instance, when I ran my most recent half-marathon in Argentan, I crossed a runner coming backward on the course route around the 11th kilometre and thought he had either given up or was acting as a pacemaker for another runner. Later I however spotted him during the awards ceremony in the first ten runners of the half-marathon! But did not do anything as I was not 100% sure it was the same runner and as being on the podium was the only reward of a possible cheat… In addition, there was no split time and hence little if any hard fact to back up my story. Maybe I’ll pay more attention on the next race!

No Gertrude Cox 5k in Vancouver!

Posted in Running, University life with tags , , , , , on June 16, 2010 by xi'an

I got the news this morning

“We will not be having the race this year due to the difficulty in finding a place and a group to set up the race.”

which means I will not compete in the 21st Gertrude Cox 5k. Very sad, as I was looking forward to it… Of course there is an attractive ultra-marathon (55k!) at the same time but this is out of my league! (Brad Carlin told me there will not be a ski race at MCM’Ski III either for insurrance reaons. How disappointing!) There is nonetheless a 10k in Squamish, starting at 8:30 in Squamish on Sunday August 1st. Sounds attractive as I also plan to go cimbing there…!

JSM 2009 impressions [day 3]

Posted in Books, Running, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , on August 5, 2009 by xi'an

The day started very early with the Gertrude Cox Scholarship 5k race, since my wife and I had to leave the hotel at 5:15am to catch the first metro to the RFK stadium. We met other runners in the metro and we all managed to get to the parking lot of the stadium. There were actually fewer runners than at the previous Gertrude Cox races I ran (like the first one in 1989 in D.C.), maybe around 40 of us, and the track for the race was one loop around the huge parking lot, not inside the stadium quite obviously. We started at about 6:20am in a warm humid weather and I managed to keep track with the two leaders for about one kilometer (3:38) before setting to my own pace. I stuck to a third place for the rest of the race, ending up in 18:28 about 30 seconds behind David Dunson and more than a minute behind the winner, in what felt like more than 5k.

The first session I attended was the Medallion lecture by Allistair Sinclair who talked about exact convergence speeds for MCMC algorithms in combinatorics. While the talk was beautifully organised and quite broad in reaching to the audience, I must admit I ended up being disappointed at the lack of connection with the MCMC developments found in Statistics, especially the huge corpus of work by Gareth Roberts and Jeff Rosenthal. This is another illustration of the gap between computer scientists working in combinatorics and applied probabilists, even though they are using the same tools. In the afternoon, I went to the Savage Award Finalists session, where the four finalist were presenting their PhD thesis work. Interestingly, they all have some Bayesian features in their work, albeit from different perspectives, and David Dunson managed to give a great discussion on those four theses at the same pace he ran the morning 5k! Later that day, at the SBSS (Section on Bayesian Statistical Science) mixer, the Savage Award was given to Lorenzo Trippa from Milano, now at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Texas A & M, for his extensions of Polya tree models.

I was mentioning the new books in the Use R! series in the previous post. I spotted yesterday a book by Phil Spector on Data Manipulation with R that I immediately bought because Phil’s material on R available on the web has been quite helpful in writing Introducing Monte Carlo Methods with R. (Hence the free cap!) Note that he should not be confused with the music producer Phil Spector, who worked with the Ramones and is now in jail! I incidentally spotted two copies of the paperback version of the The Bayesian Choice printed in hard-cover by mistake but sold at the paperback price. (This is due to the new print-on-demand strategy of publishers that eliminates inventory.)