August 31, 2012
HOW FAST CAN PAUL RYAN RUN?
POSTED BY NICHOLAS THOMPSON
Last week, in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, Paul Ryan said that he had run a marathon in under three hours, or, more precisely, “I had a two hour and fifty-something.” That is quite speedy, and running fans in the forums of Letsrun.com treated the claim with great skepticism. The Internet bears no trace of the run, and Ryan doesn’t have the extremely lean frame of your typical fast marathoner. Also, people who run that quickly are generally neurotic about their times. Shouldn’t Ryan remember his exactly? “He is too intense and driven to just forget something like that,” one commentator wrote.
Slate and Runner’s World investigated. Questions were raised, given the criticism of Ryan’s honesty in his convention speech. This evening, the terrific running journalist Scott Douglas figured out that Ryan had actually run a 4:01 in the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1990, when he was a college student. This is not quite so fast. A 2:55 would have put Ryan in a hundred and thirtieth place, out of the thirty-two hundred and seventy-seven men in that race. A 4:01 put him in nineteen hundred and ninetieth place. It’s the difference between racing and running.
I contacted the campaign this evening about the discrepancy. Ryan, through a spokesman, responded that he’d just mixed things up: “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.”