In an August 22 interview, talk radio host Hugh Hewitt asked GOP Vice Presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan about his best marathon time. Here’s a transcript:

HH: Are you still running?

PR: 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.

From the outset, runners knew something didn’t add up. Running  a sub-3 hour marathon is difficult. Most people who do it are serious about running, and remember their best time to the exact second.

Runner’s World investigated. Sure enough, Ryan had not run under three hours. His time at the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn., in 1990 was 4 hours, 1 minute, and 25 seconds.


The New Yorker got this statement from Rep. Ryan via a Ryan spokesman:

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, a data-obsessed lot, were merciless:

“So, 4:01. Hmmm, not only did he not run “2-fifty-something,” but he didn’t have the determination towards the end to at least break four hours.”

“I don’t know my best bowling score, but I know it sure as hell isn’t 250 something.”

“notice in the interview he says ‘I was fast when I was younger, yeah.’ Now I think most average folks think a sub three hour marathon is fast, and an over four hour marathon is slow.”

“Tuesday night will be You Didn’t Run That! night at the DNC.”

The usual hyper-partisans are all over it:

They’ve even got a hashtag going: #PaulRyanFeatsOfStrength. Ouch.

Ryan has his defenders:

David Frum (who has been a bitter critic of Ryan) and Hugh Hewitt (see his tweet above) both seem to think this is much ado about nothing:

Others agree:

Ryan, of course, isn’t the only prominent politician to tell a fib:

And then there’s this perspective:

Another predicted this will quickly be forgotten:

A name that came to the mind of many observers: Kip Litton.

Lessons learned.

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