Paul Ryan's Sub-Three – Er, Make That Over-Four-Hour Marathon

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's recent admission that he hadn't really run a marathon in under three hours, as he fraudulently claimed in a national radio interview, but in fact didn't even break four hours, puts him in fast company when it comes to politicians who exaggerated or lied about their feats of athleticism.

Ryan's forced confession, after being confronted by evidence uncovered by Runner's World magazine, puts him in the same league as Bill Richardson, a former New Mexico governor, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and energy secretary whose official biography once stated he had been drafted by the Kansas City Athletics to play pro baseball.

Richardson, who before Barack Obama's rise considered seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, also had let it be known that he had been drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles, but finally had to issue a lame mea culpa when reporters could not turn up any evidence of major league interest in signing the one-time college baseball star.

Richardson's bogus explanation that he thought baseball scouts put him on "a draft list of some kind," has the same phony ring of untruth as Ryan's excuse: "I literally thought that was my time. It was 22 years ago. You sorta forget these things."

Memo to Paul Ryan: You may forget the date of your anniversary, or the year you went to a Grateful Dead concert, or your S.A.T. score, but if you're a runner, you NEVER forget your best marathon time. (Gratuitous boast: I've run 2:55 twice, but wouldn't be stupid enough to brag that I've run, say, 2:30, nor would any of the marathoners I know.)

Compounding Ryan's dishonesty was that he originally claimed to have run a "2 hour and 50-something" marathon, which is quite different from a more innocent and easy-to-understand mistake of simply saying he ran "under four hours."

After some investigative reporting, Runner's World discovered that Ryan had completed only one 26.2-mile foot race, Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn., in 1990 with a time of 4:01:25, a respectable but middle-of-the-pack time.

Ryan later feebly tried to walk back his claim in a published report.

"I hurt my back when I was in my mid-20s, so I had to stop running. And so obviously, my perception of races and times was off. I thought that was an ordinary time until my brother showed me a 3-hour marathon is, you know, very – crazy fast. I ran a 4-hour marathon."

Democrats, naturally, are off and running with Ryan's stumble.

Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, noted that his mother, Jill Biden, ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., with a time of 4:30:02 in 1998.

"So I guess he can compete with my mom. Maybe not. I think my mom could take him," Biden said.

Good for Jill Biden, but while we're on the topic of the second lady, I have to get something off my chest. Ever notice that every news account refers to her as "Dr. Jill Biden"?

It implies that she's a noted neurosurgeon, or at least an M.D.

Now I have nothing but utmost respect for people with advanced degrees, but Jill Biden's title comes from having earned a doctor of education in educational leadership. Good for her, but most of the PhDs I know – and more than one M.D. and D.V.M. – don't insist on being called "doctor."

Anyway, Ryan's bogus story pales by comparison to the hilariously fanciful tale woven by then-South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford in 2009, when after disappearing for six days claimed he had been hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Never mind that the Appalachian Trail doesn't pass through his state.

In fact, Sanford, married at the time, had been in Buenos Aires with his mistress (What is it with politicians and Argentine women – remember Wilbur Mills and Fanne Foxe, "the Argentine Firecracker" who jumped into Washington's Tidal Basin after a drunken spree with the Arkansas Congressman?)

Incidentally, Sanford and Maria Belen Chapur, his one-time mistress, are now engaged, so an old-fashioned scold would say he is finally making an "honest" woman of her.

Maybe Paul Ryan should start running – with his feet – again. At 42 he's still a young guy, and a sub-three-hour marathon shouldn't be beyond his reach.

Reader Comments

MORE BLOGS

An Explorer’s Guide To The Great Indoors: Hotels Designed For ‘Adventurers’

During decades of traipsing through the wilderness I’ve slept, or attempted to sleep, in every conceivable indoor and outdoor quarters: in freshly dug snow caves; alongside bug-infested swamps; during thunderstorms with no tent; in the...

Alligators, Gorillas, Bears, Snakes, Even Cows: Danger Lurks Where You Least Expect It

The awful story this week about a 2-year-old boy who witnesses said was pulled by an alligator into a lagoon near a Walt Disney World hotel in Orlando, Florida and later found dead serves as a reminder that danger lurks even in "The...

This Bud’s For You: The Unofficial King Of Beer Litter

While kayaking the other morning I spotted a small, dark object poking above the lake surface 100 yards or so ahead, and I was pretty sure it was the head of a turtle until I drew closer and realized the sad truth: just another beer...

Chaotic Fun At The Essex River Race

Shortly before the start of the late-great Rose Arts Road Race several years ago, a 10.47-mile running competition over the hills of Norwich considered one of New England’s toughest courses, my friend Bob and I decided to jog a couple miles...

Tom And Steve’s Excellent Adventures In The Northwest Part III: Kayaking Off The Oregon Coast And Columbia River Gorge; Hiking On Mount Saint Helens

Propelled by the sound of crashing surf, my son Tom and I scrambled over a low dune and then gazed in awe.

A Connecticut Yankee In The Northwest Part II: A Cross-Country Ski Adventure, Of Sorts, At Oregon's Crater Lake

Lugging back-country skis and poles on our shoulders, my son Tom and I trudged along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway at Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park, searching for a section of road that had not been plowed.

A Connecticut Yankee In The Northwest: Stunning Views, Adventures On Land And Water (Part I)

As I clambered toward the crest of the Mist Trail in California’s Yosemite National Park a couple weeks ago, spray from the thunderous Nevada Fall washed over me, but I was already soaked, with sweat, after gaining nearly 2,000 feet of...

Vacations From Hell: At Least They’re Memorable

Just between us, don’t you hate it when friends or coworkers post photos on Facebook of awesome journeys to exotic destinations – or if they’re really old-school, send postcards depicting glorious sunsets, sparkling lakes,...

In Stride With Women Runners: Amby Burfoot Celebrates Their History In A New Book

Back in the Dark Ages when I was growing up, one of the worst insults an adolescent male could hurl at one of his buddies was, "You run like a girl!"

Danger, Swan Attack! Quick, Wring Its Neck!

It’s difficult to imagine a more outrageous example of idiotic government overreaction than this week’s incident involving a mute swan on Five Mile Pond in Danielson, which would almost be laughable if the outcome weren’t so...

The Parable Of The Rope: An Icy Mountain Drama In New Hampshire's Carter Notch

With a blustery breeze making the 8-degree temperature feel as if were a few notches below zero, our group didn’t intend to dawdle while scrambling back to civilization. The mountain hut where we spent the night had been so frigid my boots...

Over The Falls! A Salmon River Adventure

You know that feeling when you’re about to attempt something adventurous that at first seemed it would be fun, but then doubts about your safety and sanity crept in? Oh no! Too late!

There's No Such Thing As Too Much Garlic

A few years ago, while visiting relatives in Canada, I noticed a giant basket of produce in a corner of the kitchen. "Wow! Where’d you get all that garlic?" I asked.