The Two-Way
12:32 pm
Sat September 1, 2012

Fact Check: Paul Ryan Exaggerates Marathon Claim

Originally published on Sat September 1, 2012 1:48 pm

Correction: the Runner's World calculator discussed below is used for training purposes. A pace calculator estimates that Ryan would have needed to run at about 6:50 per mile to complete a marathon in 2:59.

Our original post:

Last week, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan claimed he'd accomplished an athletic feat: He had run a marathon in under three hours. The claim came during an interview on radio host Hugh Hewitt's program.

"H[ugh] H[ewitt]: Are you still running?

P[aul] R[yan]: Yeah, I hurt a disc in my back, so I don't run marathons anymore. I just run ten miles or yes.

HH: But you did run marathons at some point?

PR: Yeah, but I can't do it anymore, because my back is just not that great.

HH: I've just gotta ask, what's your personal best?

PR: Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something.

HH: Holy smokes. All right, now you go down to Miami University ...

PR: I was fast when I was younger, yeah."

A "sub-3:00" marathon? The congressman is known for his athletic prowess, but that's still a blistering pace. According to a nifty calculator on the Runner's World website, in order to complete a marathon in, say, 2:59, the calculator suggests Ryan ran a mile in 5 minutes, 37 seconds on average. Then he'd have to sustain that pace for 26.2 miles.

The speed is so fast that Runner's World checked his claim — and couldn't find it. It did locate one marathon he participated in: "Grandma's Marathon" in Duluth, Minn., on June 23, 1990.

He finished in 4 hours, 1 minute and 25 seconds.

Friday, a spokesman for Ryan told the magazine the Republican vice presidential candidate has indeed run just one marathon. And, Ryan issued this statement:

"The race was more than 20 years ago, but my brother Tobin — who ran Boston last year — reminds me that he is the owner of the fastest marathon in the family and has never himself ran a sub-three. If I were to do any rounding, it would certainly be to four hours, not three. He gave me a good ribbing over this at dinner tonight."

Runners posting on the Runner's World website are outraged: Many are listing their own PR (personal records) with date and marathon name.

Incidentally, Ryan's marathon time is a little bit slower than former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the previous GOP vice presidential candidate. Her marathon personal record is 3:59:36.

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