Roger Marolt: Roger This
September 6, 2012
Paul Ryan is a liar. Last month in a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt, Mitt Romney’s running mate told a whopper about his feats. He claimed that his feet covered a marathon course in “two hours and 50-something minutes.” That’s darn fast for a middle-aged politician from Wisconsin. A person with these credentials should not usually be competitive in any timed athletic event that doesn’t involve blueberry pie, a beer funnel and/or a snowmobile.
Runner’s World magazine didn’t believe it, either. They researched and found evidence that Ryan had run exactly one official marathon, and his time was just in excess of four hours. Now, when guessing the length of the Paleozoic Period, if you get within about an hour of its actual duration you’ve done a pretty decent job, but when you are talking about running a marathon, an hour is the aerobic-capacity equivalent of an eon.
I suspect that many people consider this a small lie. Not me. I think it matters more than most lies politicians tell concerning everything from interns’ job descriptions to claiming the Internet as a personal invention. A lie like this invades the space we visit to get away from things like politics.
It was one thing when President Clinton got outed as a golf cheat. Who doesn’t cheat at golf? But falsify your time in a running race? Something that people train hard for and for which they don’t have to take countless hours of lessons at a country club and dent the retirement account to own the latest carbon-fiber driver to get better at? A sporting endeavor without a dress code that you can enjoy and get satisfaction from before you turn 60?
It’s an affront on the original American idol, Forrest Gump. Racing is sport in its purest form – just athlete against the clock. Now we have to compete against the tall-tale tellers, too?
Some time ago, I was inadvertently registered improperly for a five-kilometer charity fun run. I was placed in the women’s age 40-49 category, the obvious mistake being that I am actually 50. I ended up getting second place, which I did not find out until the results were published. The 851st-biggest regret in my life is that I never notified an official to correct that error. This is why I can never run for mayor of Snowmass Village. But at least my time in the race was legit!
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A truly galling thing about Ryan’s claim is that he made it so trivially. Breaking three hours in a marathon is a big deal. I promise you that anyone who has done it knows their time to the second. To lie about doing it is bad enough. To make it sound like such an insignificant thing that you don’t even know your time except in roundish numbers is rubbing people’s noses in your race-day socks.
I think plenty of people in this country are more interested in lowering their 10-kilometer time than the Alternative Minimum Tax rate. Mountain bikers take satisfaction in riding hard enough to cover themselves in mud rather than slinging it at their opponents. Swimmers want to see how many laps can be crammed into an hour’s time, not insulting political ads. Recreational sports are the way Joe and Josephine Six-Pack of Gatorade measure progress. They offer a real chance to escape the middle of the pack through hard work, dedication, and, of course, sensible eating. Success is dependent on nobody’s promise but your own to go at it 100 percent. When somebody lies about citizen-class sports performance, they cheat every other participant out of something they’ve legitimately earned through sweat.
If Ryan was willing to risk a wooden nose extension over this, you have to wonder what tale he wouldn’t fabricate. You do know he claims to have a body-fat composition of between 6 and 8 percent, right? Sure thing. Would you believe he claims a resting heart rate of below 50? Ha! How about that he works out religiously in hotel gyms when traveling or that he never touches junk food, even on road trips? Preposterous!
I would have more respect for Ryan if he actually broke three hours in a marathon and afterward they found Dr. Michele Ferrari’s name in his iPhone contacts and his DNA on used EPO syringes in the alley behind his house. At least his time would be honest.
Consistent with my stance on Lance, it’s the lying that kills it for me. In this regard, Ryan’s running seems best suited for politics.
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