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

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.

Plenty Of Mudslinging On The Trail

Well, we’ve made it through another winter, though for snow and ice fans it was pretty pitiful – but we’re not quite out of the woods when it comes to challenging hiking conditions.

Hey, Shaddup Out There! At Least Can You Tone Down All That Screeching, Snorting, Squawking, Croaking, Buzzing And Howling?

OK, I get it. It’s mating season, when all the furry, feathered and slimy critters are desperate for a little action, using the only pickup technique they know: make loud noises.

'Life Is Full of Roadblocks, But You Have to Drive Through Them' – Dirk Vlieks' Inspiring Recovery

After having swum the 1.2-mile leg of Hawaii’s Rohto Half-Ironman triathlon Dirk Vlieks of Mystic was 22 miles into the 56-mile bike section, already thinking ahead to the 13.1-mile run to the finish line, when he began to feel...

My Acute Case of OCWD (Obsessive Compulsive Wood Disorder)

You’d think that those of us who heat with wood can relax this time of year when we no longer must make 10 trips a day to the woodshed, stumble out of bed at 3 a.m. to stoke the stove, continuously shovel ashes and forage the forest for...

The Eagles Have Landed Again On The Connecticut River – And A Surprise Encounter While Kayaking Among Ice Floes

For viewing shore birds, marine mammals and a veritable Noah’s ark of critters that live near the water, nothing beats a kayak. Over the years I’ve paddled among seals, loons, beavers, sharks, sea turtles, otters, muskrats, snakes,...

Maple Syrup Magic: A Sweet Reminder Of Impending Spring

Skunk cabbage and crocuses poking through the snow; almost two extra hours of daylight, a robin’s chirp; the arrival of pitchers and catchers at baseball training camps – unmistakable signs of the approaching season abound, but as far...

Embrace The Cold! It’s Fun (Right)

Just as Dylan famously sang so long ago, "You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," I don’t need a thermometer to know the temperature – or at least what to wear when I venture outside for...