Did Paul Ryan Lie? (About His Marathon Time?) -updated

Did this man run a sub-3-hour marathon?

I try to stay away from political races on this blog unless it goes to the issue of tort “reform,” which I cover often. If I get started down that road, I might never stop. But Paul Ryan, Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, may have been telling a tall tale that needs addressing here.

No, not during his speech the other night, for which he has been crucified for falsehoods and misrepresentations. I leave that to the political blogs.

But when it comes to running —  a topic I write about every so often just because I feel like it and it’s my blog and I get to do that kind of thing — the subject gets serious.

Ryan, it seems, claims to have run Grandma’s Marathon (Duluth, MN) in 1991 in under 3 hours. If true, that is a very nice athletic achievement and a race to be proud of. According to this Runner’s World story:

In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt last week, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan said he’s run a sub-3:00 marathon.

In the interview, after Ryan told Hewitt that he ran in high school, Hewitt asked if Ryan still runs. Ryan replied, “Yeah, I hurt a disc in my back, so I don’t run marathons anymore. I just run ten miles or less.” When Hewitt asked Ryan what his personal best is, Ryan replied, “Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something.”

Runner’s World,  however, says that the actual facts don’t seem to back him up. They can only find a race time of 4:01:25. That is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, but running a 4-hour marathon isn’t the same as running sub-3-hour. Not by a very long shot.

If the story is true — that is to say he never did what he said he did — then I think we have a very troubling candidate.  Telling lies in political races have come to be accepted, though the candidates and their minions should all be ashamed of doing it. But telling casual lies about your marathon time? That, my friends, is a race we take seriously.

Updated: As per Jeff Gamso in the comments, Runner’s World has now done an update after hearing from Ryan’s office and they confirm that the sub-3-hour claim was a fiction.


3 Responses Leave a comment

  • Keith Whelpley 2012.8.31 at 23:35 | Quote

    Thanks for keeping on this story. I am a Midwesterner who ran one marathon decades ago (3:34) and followed that with half ironman events. I am 52 years old now and have given up running almost completely cuz I hate it. But because of Ryan’s claim, I am committed to getting into running shape cuz I think Ryan is a lying congressional puke and any Midwestern working stiff should be able to beat a congressman at anything athletic.

  • Jeff Gamso 2012.9.1 at 14:35 | Quote
  • Ryan Collins 2012.9.5 at 12:07 | Quote

    Under 3 hours compared to 4 hours and change is quite the difference. I wish he could just understand that just finishing the marathon is a feat in and of itself!

    No need to fabricate a lie to make everyone think you are a world class runner. I will respect anyone who gives a marathon a good try, even if they don’t get past the 10 mile mark.

    I guess we’ll see what happens with Mr. Ryan. I agree that even a small little phib can really impact the level of trust the community can have for a candidate.

    If you lie about marathon times, what else could you be lying about?

    Take care and all the best,


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