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No-quit Sherlock: E:60 profiles a “marathon detective”

Producer explains storytelling approach to "The Gumshoe"

E:60 producer Brian Rivera (L) consults with “Marathon Detective” Derek Murphy (Josh Smith/ESPN)

Most likely, people would be surprised to learn that there’s a man who searches for and catches people who cheat in marathons. E:60 will introduce him to viewers on Sunday (9 a.m. ET, ESPN; watch trailer below).

Every year, more than half a million people run a marathon. Most runners achieve their finish time honestly, but some don’t. That’s where Derek Murphy of Lebanon, Ohio, comes in. The former business analyst turned marathon detective has identified hundreds of cheaters in his crusade to keep race results clean.

Working mostly from home, Murphy has caught runners cheating in races of all sizes ranging from a 10K at Walt Disney World to the Boston Marathon.

With numerous written pieces and a brief TV feature having been done on Murphy previously, producer Brian Rivera and the E:60 management team decided on a unique approach for telling his story.

Cheating in a marathon is a serious thing, and Derek certainly takes it seriously, but we saw an opportunity to give his story a little bit of a different interpretation.

-- Brian Rivera, E:60 producer

“Cheating in a marathon is a serious thing, and Derek certainly takes it seriously, but we saw an opportunity to give his story a little bit of a different interpretation,” said Rivera.

“It’s hard to find a real victim in these stories, and so that led us to approach it a little differently than if the stakes were higher and people had been victimized in a more serious way,” he said. “We’re not talking about criminals who have committed felonies. These are mostly people who want their friends to think they’re more accomplished than they are.

“We decided to dive into the detective genre and use some of the devices and clichés, apply them to Derek’s story and have a little bit of fun with it,” he said. “We wanted to try and mine it for a little more humor and maybe a little more genre nuance in what we did.”

Rivera hopes E:60 viewers will find the piece educational as he did.

“Before this story came across my desk, I had no idea someone like this existed, and I also didn’t realize cheating in marathons was something that even happened regularly enough that someone was making a living investigating and reporting on it,” he said. “I hope people will be entertained, informed and some people who may be considering cheating in a marathon will be dissuaded as well.”

Sunday’s E:60 also will include a profile of Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, whose father was murdered when Mike was nine years old.