I cheated.

Broken Medal

Last April, my friend, Holly, aka Muddy Mommy called herself out on cutting corners in a race. I wanted to write about this then, but did not have the courage. My business partner, Christian, has recently been posting on Facebook some very honest, but ugly things about himself. That also pushed me to write, but I chose not to. Today an article I just read by a friend (who happens to be an obstacle racer) but has nothing to do with OCR, inspired me to finally come clean.

Maybe it isn’t that big of a deal, maybe I have made too much of it all of this time, but it needs to come out, so here goes.

I cheated. I knowingly cheated in a race, and let my time stand.

It was the Saturday race of Atlanta Spartan Sprint of 2014. I had been training hard, it was my home Spartan, I really wanted to do well. I took off in the elite heat and was doing great. I knew if I had a burpee free race, I could put up a great time. Midway through the race, all was going as planned. There were only a few obstacles that even had the possibility of burpees, and I had made them all. Then we got to the traverse wall. (This is the old traverse wall, where you only have to scale across the wall once, not the current Z Wall).

I have made the traverse wall countless times. Once I learned a solid technique, it is something that I complete 100% of the time. My technique is to get as long and lean as possible. The more surface area my body covers, the less likely I am to fall off. I also sort of hump the wall. I keep my groin pressed to the wall as hard as possible so my fingers and toes don’t have to work so hard.

So there I was, stretching out as far as possible, keeping myself long and lean and onto the next hold. There were two blocks left for me to ring the bell. Then I slipped. Without thinking, I jumped back up, touched the next blocks and rang the bell. I looked around and realized no one saw me fall and kept running as fast as I could. Then, it hit me. “Dude you just cheated-go back and do your burpees”.

I didn’t. I kept going. That guilty feeling was gnawing at me a little, but not too much.

I finished the race without any further penalties. Climbing rope, no problem. Spear, no problem. When I went to the timing tent, I couldn’t believe. it. The best I had ever done in a Sprint. 5th in my age group!

Athlinks

As I saw more and more of my friends that day, we were asking each other the usual questions. “How did you do?” “How many burpees?” When I told them my time and proudly said “No burpees”, that gnawing, guilty, feeling got a little stronger. Especially when it was friends who I really respect, friends who typically beat me at other races.

Still, it wasn’t enough for my ego to do anything about it. I was too happy with myself. I mean, I just qualified for *OCR Worlds! That giant 5 in age group made me feel like a real winner!

So I let it stand and then tried not to think about it. Except that I couldn’t. Because there it is for all the world to see. It lives on the Spartan results page. It lives on my Athlinks page. It’s the tell-tale heart of my cheating. As I look at the photo I just placed above, I notice my profile photo happens to be of my son and I. No accidents. Do I want my son to cheat? Do I want to teach my children that it is ok to cut corners in life when no one is watching?

As OCR World’s approached, that gnawing, guilty, horrible twinge started up again, but then I realized that I qualified for World’s anyway with some other races, so “it didn’t really matter”.

This next part is what I have had the hardest time with. The part that I am the most scared to write. Obstacle Racing Media is the company that I helped co-create and that I work on every day. Many times, ORM calls out race directors or others that have cut corners or have been less than above board.  So, for me to admit that I have cheated makes me a giant hypocrite, which I somehow measured as worse than a cheater. It means that some people may stop supporting ORM, or if they never did, it would give them more reason to stay away and tell their friends to do the same.

At one point, I had it in my head that when the Spartan Sprint came back around to Georgia, it would be the perfect time to come clean. Sometime after posting my 2015 Sprint results, I could talk about what happened last year. Well, that time came and went and I was still too much of a puss to write it.

So here we are, I am letting it out. It has sucked for me this whole time to live with it, and this post needed to happen.

If friends like Holly, like Melanie, and my partner Christian, have the balls to tell the truth no matter the consequences, then so can I.

I am going to see if I can get my results from that race removed from the Spartan pages and from Athlinks. If I can’t, then it will be reminder of what I did, and something that I never want to do again.

*Editor’s note – I received the email below from The OCR World Championships around 6:00pm EST, the same day this blog post went up.  I understand and accept their decision.

Dear Matt-

In reading your recent editorial on Obstacle Racing Media entitled, “I Cheated”, it has now been brought to my attention that you knowingly submitted results to prove your qualification for the 2014 OCR World Championships that were obtained under false pretenses, having openly admitted to cheating during the race in question.

While I certainly commend you for coming forward publicly at this time to be open and honest with what occurred during that race and your choice to submit those results to us as proof of your qualification, we would be remiss to simply allow this to pass by without consequence. If our sport is to continue to grow and evolve, we must rely on race organizations and athletes to enforce and follow the rules that are set in place.

To that end, due to the fact that you chose to submit qualifying results for the 2014 OCR World Championships in which you knowingly cheated to obtain the given result, we will be disqualifying your result from the 2014 OCR World Championships and you will no longer be listed as a finisher.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Regards, 
Brad Kloha
Chief Operating Officer
OCRWC

Matt B. Davis

is the host of the Obstacle Racing Media Podcast and the author of "Down and Dirty-The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs". He is also the only (known) #wafflehouseelite obstacle racer.
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24 comments
  1. If you kill someone and don’t tell anyone about it you have to live with it in your own fashion. If you kill someone and tell the world, you often have to pay the consequences. Somethings are better not said.

  2. You may have released some guilt with this but unfortunately it is too late. You qualified for OCRWC at another race and took the opportunity from someone to qualify at Spartan. I personally missed my opportunity at another spartan event by one spot, so this article really hits close to me. No matter how you feel about it now, you took someone else’s opportunity/glory. You should have rectified sooner.

  3. Hindsight is 20/20. Making the right choices and acting 100% ethically every time just doesn’t happen. Could you have done your burpees…sure. Could you have come clean sooner…sure. Did you win any money…no…and there are cases of podium finishers who cheated. This doesn’t negate the act on your part…just perspective.

    Did you steal someone else’s spot at the OCRWC…maybe…at 5th place in your age group, it’s possible those 30 burpees would not have pushed you out of the Top 20. Would that person even have gone to OCRWC? My point is…it’s in the past, and there’s no way to know.

    What is important is that you have learned from this experience…how to be a better sportsman…honest with yourself and others. Hold yourself to a higher standard than the standard you expect from others. Shake it off and move forward. You are a racer and a media personality…both of you have new knowledge.

  4. Nice work. Christian’s post ends with “you should have rectified sooner”. Thank you Captain Obvious. I am guessing as time went on, this got harder to do. Good job on putting this out there.

  5. In any sport there are those who take advantage of the current system or rules and officiating in place. It is the responsibility of the event holders to make sure that there is no way to get away with infringements on the rules. There is a reason why football has so many referees to see all that is going on. Many will do what they can do to win, some within the rules and some to see what they can get away with. Cheating will always be there and it is the responsibility of the event/sport to regulate and control it.

    Yes it is also our responsibility as racers to race with honor and respect for the rules, but we can only control ourselves. The race has to cover everyone.

    1. Really?
      thats the dumbest assumption i have ever heard, cheating comes from the character of the person.
      it is then safe to assume that you would steal a bank if there were no repercussions or cops to stop you, which means at the end of the day you are a robber short of an opportunity.
      there are lots of officials and cameras and they know it and still cheat so its not the Race responsibilities , its the ATHLETE to live up to the rules.
      but its kinda hard to have morals and dignity in a world where the responsibility of OUR actions are put on a entity and not in ourselves.
      btw, Grow up and take ownership of your actions, the world doesnt need people looking left and right to do something fraudulent

      1. Not EXACTLY… Take basketball. Nba. Technically it’s against the rules to touch someone’s waist who is dribbling the ball. And when you do that, you receive a fowl, indicating you have broken the rules.
        Nevertheless, what’s the standard practice towards the end of EVERY close basketball game? People breaking the rules, on purpose, to gain an advantage. We all watch it happen; the refs watch it happen and hand out penalties, it’s just part of that game; breaking the rules to gain advantage.

  6. First of all, I applaud you for coming out and telling the racing community that you did something unethical, that you’re sorry and that you’ll never do it again.

    Debate can (and probably will) rage on about this admission for some time. What’s done is done. You can’t really change much at this point. Hindsight is 20/20 and it is a simple thing for folks to shake their fingers at you.In the grand scheme of creation, this is a VERY MINOR issue.

    I am not saying you have to do anything, BUT, if you’re still feeling guilt and remorse, then do something to make it up to the community. Something like: at your next race, line up at the back of the pack, find that person who is probably going to struggle through the whole race, and help them through. Do other people’s burpees in some open heats.

    Above all, hold yourself to the standards you have now set.

    See you on the course sometime!

  7. I’ve always wondered what goes through the mind of somebody who cheats and whether they somehow justify it to themselves or if it eats them from the inside. I’m sure there are plenty that can just sweep it under the rug and forget about it, but those with a conscience SHOULD feel remorseful and it might sound douchy, but I’m glad that it bothered you so much. I heard a powerful quote from a friend, “The way you do anything, is the way you do everything”. Your blog is your attempt to right your wrong and from the way it sounds, you won’t cheat a race ever again. Thanks for sharing and hopefully other “guilty” readers will learn from it. Much respect for coming clean.

  8. Matt, you are your own prison. Shame on what you did, shame on others who do the same. Only you can judge yourself good luck inThe future races. Hopefully others that read your story,Will learn from it also and if they are cheating will stop.

  9. What??!!! You cheated and only got 5th!? LAME – you should have at least flubbed it and gotten 2nd or 3rd!

  10. The fact that you held back for so long and came out with it said it all! You hated yourself for it but learned from it and won’t put yourself in that position again. The real douches are the ones that cheat all day at every race and especially the so called pros. Just like 2013 Carolina beast where most of the elite heats top competitors went completely around the 1st obstacle and likely others throughout the day and got their podium with a smile as if they are even human. What you did was lame though no doubt but you know that so don’t expect any good to come about posting of it.

    1. Matt I commend you for writing this. You certainly didn’t have to and no one but yourself would have ever known. But you obviously have a conscience unlike so many others. I run all kinds of OCR and trail races including WTM, Spartan, but also many local small races. I am continually amazed at what people do, skipping obstacles, cutting switchbacks, etc, etc. Most of the time it’s your “elite” racers that are the worst perpetrators. My wife and I run together, and we are super competitive so we obviously want to post the best time we can. But if we didn’t follow the rules, any so called win would be hollow. We too were at the 2013 SC Beast and saw elites running around the mud pits?? Anyway this was an important article to write and hope many take notice. Hope to see you at some races soon, at least WTM this fall.

  11. Sometimes decisions are made in a fraction of a second. A decision to come clean so publicly and in such a raw and honest way – on your own forum nonetheless, is one made with much thought and strength of character.
    We all have done things we would possibly do differently.
    And we are all human for doing so.

    I love you, HDP.

  12. It takes a lot of courage for you to make this confession. While not entirely a victimless crime, your decision to skip burpees was close to it — for the rest of us. The real victim, as you learned, is you. And the value of your article, apart from catharsis, is the important lesson for would-be cheaters that buying a few seconds by skirting rules can come with a heavy cost, while the benefits are exceedingly slim and fleeting. Some will cheat with no remorse and finish ahead of me. That doesn’t matter b/c my finish place is dictated more by who doesn’t show up than who shows up and cheats. When I see people shave off corners, it truly doesn’t bother me b/c it’s another opportunity to stay on course and increase my own self esteem. Finishing in the top 10 feels great but isn’t meaningful – or, at least it has much more value if it was achieved at the highest standard. My race performance is my own and I have to live with it, good or bad. But even on the worst day, I have my integrity (as do you). And that’s an asset worth more than a podium finish.

  13. First, I would like to applaud you for coming clean on this. Unfortunately, cheating does happen (quite often at events), but is rarely admitted to or put onto a public platform; also something to applaud. I think it is admirable when someone admits wrong doing.

    Second, I would like to address ‘Christian’s’ post regarding how you “took the opportunity for someone to qualify at Spartan”. Yes, it is unfortunate you were at a DIFFERENT Spartan Race and missed your opportunity to compete at OCRWC, BUT I will stress, there were 15 different race organizations that you could have qualified at. With Spartan and Warrior Dash, those combined for almost 100 opportunities between those two organizations alone, to qualify. Add in the additional qualifying races and you have a surplus of opportunity to qualify for the event. Did he take someone’s opportunity? Bluntly, yes. But I wouldn’t use this as a scapegoat as to why you were unable to qualify. If anything, you will learn that by not qualifying and coming up just short, that you will need to train harder and give more than you have to get to that level. This is life and things happen; deal with it. You cannot control anyone’s behavior but your own, so to say that this should have been rectified sooner just because you feel cheated that you didn’t qualify (at a totally unrelated/unassociated event, mind you) is completely off base. Also, rectifying it sooner still doesn’t change the past.

  14. Good for you for sharing. We are all hypocrites and lie or cheat or do something dishonest in our lives, more than once too. Those who think otherwise are only fooling themselves. It takes guts to say I messed up. It’s a lesson learned and you will get another opportunity one day when comforted with this again. Make the hard choice. Blessings!

  15. Matt, what is the purpose of this post? Why not get in touch with the race organizers and simply see if results can be removed? Why does this need to be a public statement?

    1. Not a racer here, but a good friend of Matt’s. The purpose of the post is to take responsibility and rebuild his honor. Plain and simple. Matt’s honor suffered a blow in his indiscretion, but in his confession he demonstrates his integrity has remained in tact. He must now set about the business of rebuilding his honor– no easy journey. But as the old saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. Proud to be a fellow human with you, Matt.

  16. Ah the rabidly self-righteous! How they swarm like flies on shit, in the comments sections. Burn the witch! Put Matt in the stocks! He stole my spot! He’s a cheater. Cheating is a reflection of his character! He’s a bad bad man! I never trusted him anyway. I’ll never believe him again.
    To Hell with all of you cowards! COWARDS the whole lot of you who condemn this man. Give me one adult driver who 100% of the time drives the speed limit. Who doesn’t look for some way to save a little on your taxes. Do you selectively turn your morality and ethics off? A man who has the humility to admit his faults, which ever they maybe, is a man of character: Moral Character. Honesty and sportsmanship? We love to throw these words around like pious saints of Athletics. Bullshit. Ethics? Have you taken a free race? Do you receive sponsored items? Can you afford to go to more races than most people? Do you have endless hours to train? Ethics in sports? It’s like asking about morality in a bar. The difference between those who want to shit on Matt, and Matt, is that one of his skeletons is on public display, which one of theirs is?

  17. matt – well done.
    Don’t listen to those that went negative

    “Never speak from a place of hate, jealousy, anger, or insecurity. Evaluate your words before you let them leave your lips. Sometimes it’s best to be quiet” Tony Gaskins Jr.

  18. I can see all sides to this situation and understand why/how people are upset, especially those who may have missed out on qualifying for The OCR Championships. I can also see how this would be a terrifying thing for Matt to admit, especially given his position at ORM. But, what’s done is done. I admire Matt for having the cajones to come clean, regardless of how long it took for him to speak his truth. I am obviously not an elite racer nor am I sprinting through the course fast enough that no one would see me cutting corners haha But, I will say this: In every race my boyfriend, Todd, and I have done, we have been offered to “simply” skip part of the course. You know, when it’s dark out, everyone has gone home & conditions are dangerous, at best. But, we have never chosen that option.

    We, like many others, come to COMPLETE the course, no matter how long it may take us. I flipped off the top of the slippery knot wall at the Texas Beast after 10+ hours of freezing torture in Dec 2013. I got knocked out and found out later (at the ER) that I had a concussion and broke 3 ribs. They tried to pull me off the course and take me to the medical tent. They said my attempt to complete this race was “a valiant effort”. I’m sure if I had not finished those last 3 obstacles and had gone to the medical tent and called it a night, someone would have given me my finisher’s medal and my first trifecta medal, as well. But, I’m not doing these races for time or for a shirt or a medal. I’m doing them to challenge myself 100%.

    I want to experience every obstacle, every inch of terrain, every single part of that course. I’m not going to stop or cut corners when I’m tired, or in pain or have a loooong way left to go. I’M GOING TO STOP WHEN I’M DONE. I got back up that cold December day in 2013 and some friends helped me get up the wall again. Success! Once I was at the top of the wall, I was told there was a surprise awaiting me at the finish line. I shook my head a few times bc I still couldn’t really see after my fall, and all of the sudden I could make out what was happening beyond the fire jump~ My boyfriend, who had driven from Colorado to Texas to surprise me, was waiting for me with hot cocoa, my medal and a kiss at the finish line!!

    Seeing Todd there with tears in his eyes is the single best moment of my life thus far. I hugged him and weeped into his chest. He whispered, “I knew you’d get back up!!” Had I stepped off the course after my slippery knot stumble, I would have denied myself one of the best moments and memories of my life. Hopefully the people who are cutting corners and skipping obstacles and burpees realize that they are only cheating themselves when they try to beat the system. It seems that Matt is learning life lessons from his misstep and for that I admire him. I think Matt needs to do 30 extra burpees for every day he let this lie linger in the universe. I also invite Matt and any of you to race with Todd and I so you can see that there is awesomeness, epic adventures, a few stumbles (lol) and no shame at the back of the pack!!

  19. I do my burpees because because I want to EARN the medal…. I run for this little girl and she cannot just run past an obstacle ( Burpees in this instance) she has to handle and deal with every obstacle she faces… Great job admitting it and committing to do better and raise your son as a winner. We all make mistakes. The people Judging you are no better than any of us so dont let it bother you.

    AROO!

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