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Rosie Ruiz, Known for Cheating to Win Boston Marathon in 1980, Dies at 66

Rosie Ruiz, known best for infamously course-cutting to win the 1980 Boston Marathon, has died. She was 66 years old, according to multiple outlets.

While Ruiz died on July 8, her death was not widely reported until a writer for Lets Run saw a posting linked to a funeral home obituary listed under her married name, Rosie M. Vivas.

The obituary from the West Palm Beach, Florida, funeral home disclosed that she had died peacefully after having cancer for 10 years. Ruiz was able to celebrate her 66th birthday with her “loving family” on June 21.

Ruiz was working as a secretary at a commodities trading firm in Manhattan when she competed in the 1980 marathon, according to the New York Times. Ruiz finished the race first in 2 hours, 31 minutes and 56 seconds, marking what would have been the third-fastest time ever recorded by a woman in a marathon, the outlet reported.

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After finishing the New York Marathon — her first marathon — in under three hours, Ruiz qualified for the Boston Marathon, the Washington Post reported. Yet, no one had seen Ruiz during the 26-mile course in Boston.

Four days after the Boston Marathon, Susan Morrow, a freelance photographer, told the Times that she was on the subway with Ruiz during the New York Marathon, and that Ruiz told her she dropped out at the 10-mile mark due to an injured ankle.

New York Marathon officials disqualified her finish and the Boston Marathon officials did the same after finding out she had only run the final half mile of the Boston Marathon.

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Ruiz kept her medal, despite a new one being made for the true winner, Canadian runner Jacqueline Gareau. Thought she maintained she ran the entire race, in 1996, her friend Steve Marek told the Boston Globe that Ruiz admitted to cheating.

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Mel Finkelstein/NY Daily News Archive via Getty

Ruiz’s obituary doesn’t note her marathon scandals, but shares information about her personal life, reporting she was born in Havana, Cuba, and moved to the United States when she was 8 years old.

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Gene Kappock/NY Daily News Archive via Getty

She is survived by her domestic partner Margarita Alvarez, three sons, Francisco, Reynoldo and Gilberto, and her brother Robert Ruiz. Her marriage to Aicardo Vivas ended in divorce, according to the Times.

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