Did a prominent running magazine editor fake her marathon times?

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 23: Runners compete during the London Marathon in London, United Kingdom on April 23, 2023
Marathon runner and journalist Kate Carter has found herself at the center of a cheating scandal regarding her marathon times (Image credit: No commercial uses without permission. Contact your local office.)

When trying to improve your marathon pace, training, nutrition and the right pair of road running shoes are typically top of the list, but one prominent running magazine editor has been accused instead of cutting course sections and posting misleading race times to make her performance appear better. 

Kate Carter, who denies the claims of wrongdoing, is currently the acting commissioning editor at Runner's World UK as well as being a qualified running coach, marathon runner and Guinness World Record holder – in 2019 she ran the London Marathon dressed as a panda, setting a new record for running the race while dressed in a full body costume.

Carter has run all the Marathon Majors, which include some of the world's best marathons, but on January 30, some of her marathon times were brought into question by a blogger named Derek Murphy on the site Marathon Investigations.

In his article, Murphy claims he was given information about Carter's alleged misconduct and after reviewing her GPS data, believes she missed a split in the 2023 London Half Marathon which resulted in an inaccurate finish time of 01:32:12. 

Murphy points to other factors in his accusations, such as Carter's bib number being partially obscured, no photos of her during the missing section and photos revealing that her Garmin watch was working even though she claimed on Strava that it had died. According to the Marathon Handbook, she made similar claims about missing chip information and a dead GPS watch following the 2016 Berlin marathon.

Garmin Instinct 2X Solar watch

In dispute is Carter's claim that her watch died, explaining the mossing data, but photos show it was working at the end of the race (Image credit: Michael Sawh)

Murphy also says Carter ran the 2023 London Marathon without a chip, then manually created a GPX map of her route and posted it to Strava, making it look as though she had run the race in 03:18:20, however the route was actually from 2019.

Carter's Strava posts have since been removed, and she tells The Telegraph that she is not guilty of the charges levelled at her by Murphy.

“I am not a cheat," she says, but admits she made errors in judgement which she "deeply" regrets.

In defending herself, Carter explains that during the marathon, she was not in peak fitness and wasn't seeking an official time. However, she says she ran quicker than she expected and wanted to upload her success to her Strava account, something she says she recognizes was a move based on her ego.

“Even in the amateur running world there is pressure to maintain form and times... My own desire to be seen to be doing well at a time when I was feeling weak and below par, resulted in a momentary lapse of judgment which I very much regret.”

She says that trying to create a manual route based on her time was "foolish" and she soon removed it from her feed.

Regarding the half marathon discrepancy, she says she had "embarassingly" wet herself during the race and stepped of the course to clean herself up before mistakenly returning to the wrong point and inadvertently skipping a section but "was in no way trying to deceive the organisers of either event about my times”.

“When I rejoined the race, it is possible that I did so at the wrong point on the course, though that was not my intention," she says.

Feet running marathon

Carter explains that during the marathon, she was not in peak fitness and wasn't seeking an official time (Image credit: skynesher)

Unsurprisingly, the scandal has been picked up on Reddit, where it's gained over 300 comments, with many users skeptical about Carter's version of events.

"It would be easier to believe if she hadn't made the earlier statement about her watch dying - she doesn't even mention this or try to reconcile the old story with the new story," comments one user.

In a February 6 blog, Murphy says that Carter has called his claims "defamatory and ethically irresponsible." A spokesperson for Runner's World UK says the magazine is investigating the claims.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.