You may have seen the viral letter from a dad whose kids skipped school so they could watch him run the Boston Marathon. The school sent a “this was an unexcused absence” form letter, and the dad fired off a passionate letter explaining why his kids learned more from Boston than in school. They may have also learned to cheat.
The downside of going so viral is that Mike Rossi became somewhat famous, and some running-savvy sleuths have noticed that his athletic claims and reality don’t seem to match very well. For those who are not familiar with racing, the Boston Marathon is almost entirely run by people who qualify by running an acceptably fast time in another certified marathon. In other words, if you aren’t a reasonably strong athlete for your age group, you aren’t going to qualify for entry into Boston. The marathon he used to qualify for Boston was Lehigh Valley, where he purportedly ran in 3 hours and 11 minutes, for a pace of around 7:17 per mile. Several eagle eyed sleuths at Let’s Run have pointed out that there’s only one photo of Rossi at the Lehigh marathon, and that’s crossing the finish line. Also, his previous races all indicate that a 7:15ish mile was his 5k race pace, meaning he would have had to run for 26.2 miles at the same pace he could run for 3.1 miles. For anyone who’s not a runner: that means he either ran super easily and nowhere near his athletic abilities in his 5ks, or he skipped a big chunk of the Lehigh marathon course.
Now, whether he did or did not cheat, or whether he was being a blowhard for attacking his kid’s school over a form letter, none of this would have been noticed if he hadn’t gone viral. If he had just been another runner at Boston, and no one from Lehigh noticed the oddities in his race pace or lack of photographic evidence, then no one would be wondering or branding this guy as a cheat. But he rode on the collective shoulders of the internet as a hero to many who believed his letter defended the rights of parents everywhere, and he’s quickly learning there’s a downside to viral fame, especially if you have a few potential
skeletons questionable race results in your closet!