America

Fact Check: Paul Ryan Exaggerates Marathon Claim

Rep. Paul Ryan claimed to have run a marathon in less than three hours. i i

Rep. Paul Ryan claimed to have run a marathon in less than three hours. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Win McNamee/Getty Images
Rep. Paul Ryan claimed to have run a marathon in less than three hours.

Rep. Paul Ryan claimed to have run a marathon in less than three hours.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

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.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.