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Wow, that’s quite a scenario!
September 2, 2012 5:53 AM   Subscribe


 
It's pretty well accepted in running circles that Kip cheats every time, but I totally came in here thinking this post was about Paul Ryan claiming a sub-3 when his PR is 4:01.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:37 AM on September 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sitting here in my running clothes, reading this article instead of being outside and training for a 10K. Pretty fascinating to read, the races that I've run all seem so carefully monitored I'm amazed that he got away with so much before anyone noticed.
posted by octothorpe at 6:38 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is Paul Ryan a Michigan dentist? Why on earth would you think that the post would be about Paul Ryan?

Thanks for this article, crayz. Truly fascinating.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:39 AM on September 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Along with outrage and stupefaction, the LetsRun community expressed gratitude: “This is the craziest thing I have ever read in my life. Ever. . . . WOW. . . . Better than porn. . . .

That's... An odd thing to say?
posted by nathancaswell at 6:39 AM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kip Litton for Vice President!
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:44 AM on September 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Arsenio, I had just read the Marathon Man part.

And now I need to go run 14 miles. :)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:46 AM on September 2, 2012


So, there's an entire website set up to uncovering Litton's fraud. And somebody even made t-shirts for the West Wyoming Marathon. That's . . . awesome.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:46 AM on September 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


Paul Ryan suddenly claiming he was a dentist wouldn't be the most potentially damaging or unrealistic lie he told this week.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:47 AM on September 2, 2012 [15 favorites]


"Marathon Man" and "dentist" are two things I never want to encounter in the same sentence.
posted by Egg Shen at 6:49 AM on September 2, 2012 [47 favorites]


That's...crazy.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:53 AM on September 2, 2012


It's a weird story. I was wondering, if there are that many eyes on him, how he has not been caught before. How exactly would you cheat, in a foolproof way, time after time?
posted by carter at 7:02 AM on September 2, 2012


Wow. That's a fascinating story. And incredible that still no one has caught him in the act.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 7:11 AM on September 2, 2012


How exactly would you cheat, in a foolproof way, time after time?

A set of identical octoplets, like all those relative turtles in the Bugs Bunny cartoon.
posted by DU at 7:13 AM on September 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


Add me to the list of people putting off their runs reading this. It's definitely weird how he is able to get back into the races without being noticed. Maybe he does it at bathroom stops or feed zones where there's more confusion. I can't imagine there are many stretches in the big races where someone could be unobserved, never mind multiple times in the races with several chip mats to cross.
posted by ghharr at 7:15 AM on September 2, 2012


The article mentions bicycling, how usual is it to see people on a bicycle during a marathon? Surely that would show up in a photo?
posted by geoff. at 7:15 AM on September 2, 2012


The other amazing thing is that he is timing everything perfectly. Getting sub-3 times but not ridiculous times. Maybe he finds a way to insert himself at the end of the race, waits for the first wave to pass, then joins in behind.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:23 AM on September 2, 2012


I was thinking about this yesterday after the obvious parallel with the Paul Ryan story. Why lie about running times? Especially when there are serious organizations tracking running times? And eagle eyed people? Although this guy actually did get away with it...very mysterious how AND why he went to all the effort.
posted by bquarters at 7:24 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


How odd. What could possibly motivate him to perpetrate such a fraud? There is such a camaraderie among runners - it is such a supportive community. Why would someone want to pretend to be a better runner than he is?
posted by barnoley at 7:27 AM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


The article mentions bicycling, how usual is it to see people on a bicycle during a marathon? Surely that would show up in a photo?

He wouldn't be cycling on the course, he would leave the course, bike to another point, stash the bike, and re-join the race.
posted by ghharr at 7:28 AM on September 2, 2012


Yeah, getting times like that reliable and without being obviously caught is just an intricate fraud to be pulling off.

I don't know about most marathons, but I know in some there are folks on bicycles and motorcycles who pace runners and do everything from communications to camera work.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:28 AM on September 2, 2012


"Pressed via e-mail by Hubbard and others, he [...] offered justifications that left one in awe of his gift for just making shit up."

I loved seeing this line in The New Yorker, stringent style guide and all.
posted by lizzicide at 7:34 AM on September 2, 2012 [33 favorites]


He wouldn't be cycling on the course, he would leave the course, bike to another point, stash the bike, and re-join the race.

How many bikes would this require?
posted by crayz at 7:39 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've run (okay, walked ambled) precisely one chip-timed event, and when I got the badge I was like “?! People trust these things?”. Can they be cloned? How close to a mat do you need to be for it to trigger? Do all the mats in a race have to trigger in order for someone to list as a finisher? (If so, have you always had an RFID card "just work", or have you ever had to retry it?) How open are the race systems? Can we see in real time when a runner crosses a mat? Is there any advantage (prestige, increased sponsorship, ...) to a race organizer in having as many competitors as possible finish with good times?

I think this is as much a question for the folks on RISKS-L as those concerned with the psychology of cheating.
posted by scruss at 7:39 AM on September 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is it just me, or is it kind of shitty of CFF to divulge how much money the guy's household has donated?
posted by amarynth at 7:40 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of the Jean-Claude Romand case, but with much less murder. If you ever want a fascinating read about strange deception try The Adversary, the story of that case.

There's something fascinating about a liar. Do they lie to themselves?
posted by readery at 7:42 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, the article does say how he did it and it's pretty much what I imagined when I heard about the timing mats:
By not showing a bib mid-race, Litton was counting on not being photographed, or at least not being recognized as a race entrant. Sticking to the shoulder allowed him to get close enough for his chip to register at the thirty-kilometre checkpoint.
It says later on that he can't have done it that way because there are other photos of him with the bib on and in the middle of the road. But I don't see why he can't just cheat at some checkpoints, but not all.
posted by DU at 7:46 AM on September 2, 2012


Or, put another way, one of the best ways to pull off an impossible trick repeatedly is to do it differently at different times. Then cumulatively it looks like you passed all tests.
posted by DU at 7:47 AM on September 2, 2012


Was Mark Singer paid by the word? Like J K Rowling, I can't help feeling he'd benefit from a good editor. And why is New Yorker piling on Kip Litton like this?
posted by epo at 7:49 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great story. Was hoping for more of a bang at the end, though, but that's not how life works most times.

If anyone should feel inclined to dive into what is apparently the last Kip Litton thread the mods allowed at Let's Run's World Famous Message Board (which began in Jan 2011 and is a standard glorious mess of a forum thread), the reaction to Singer's article starts around page 220 or so.

Fave bit so far is this comment about the paywall: WTF? We practically wrote the article for you - supplied you with all the information for the article, in the least - and you some bush league sh!t like that?

Also, the Jonah Lehrer stuff comes up as an attempt to take down the mag's credibility.
posted by mediareport at 7:50 AM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


By not showing a bib mid-race, Litton was counting on not being photographed, or at least not being recognized as a race entrant. Sticking to the shoulder allowed him to get close enough for his chip to register at the thirty-kilometre checkpoint.

I did read that bit but still could not really figure this out. More coffee needed ...
posted by carter at 7:56 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Is it just me, or is it kind of shitty of CFF to divulge how much money the guy's household has donated?

I thought about that for a second, but then I realized that this guy is publicly making a big deal about his support for the CFF when in fact he's not supporting them at all, so they have every right to point out that he's lying.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:58 AM on September 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


Ok, so I get that he probably just cut the course. But why change shoes and hats? Was it to go from "runner" to "bystander"? If so, wouldn't he change back at the end?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:01 AM on September 2, 2012


DU: But I don't see why he can't just cheat at some checkpoints, but not all.

Yeah, that's the weakest moment in Singer's story. He really lets Litton off the hook here:

My smoking gun turned out to be no such thing. In his response, Litton directed me to photographs that I’d overlooked: images of him at the fifteen-kilometre split.

“The bib is still underneath but I am in the middle of the road,” he wrote, triumphantly and accurately. “If I was trying to ‘avoid photos’ or ‘not be recognized as a race entrant’ why would I be in the middle of the road this time between other runners?”


Really? That's convincing evidence he wasn't cheating? Why was his bib covered at all? It makes perfect sense that Litton would work to blur the line between race entrant and spectator, sometimes showing up in the race for pictures, sometimes walking by the side of the road, looking down for timing mats (or whatever, I'm still unclear on how those work). I dunno, seems like Singer wilted a bit there for no good reason. Or am I missing something?
posted by mediareport at 8:02 AM on September 2, 2012


Fascinating tale.
I'm still perplexed by why he went to all this trouble. Ostensibly, we are told he was "running" these races to raise money for CF. But, there doesn't appear to be any evidence that his efforts resulted in any donations, nor is there any implication that he pocketed any donations. From all evidence, he and his wife made good money on their own (and what purpose did the detour into his Amway affiliation serve? Guilt by association with a pyramid scheme? I thought that part pretty sleazy/lazy)

Anyway, the why is never determined. Are we to simply assume raw ego? Thrill of pulling-off a con? I'm just not understanding his motivation. It's so...psychopathic.

And, then, there is the muddled evidence of how he pulled all of this off. Now, I have never attended or run in a marathon, but I am incredulous that it would be so damned easy to jump on and off a course, and skip ahead, without being detected. I mean, it would seem to me that that would be the most obvious method of cheating a race, and there would be in-place safeguards against such shenanigans.

And the obvious mistakes of changing shoes and shirts mid-race. That seems like such a stupid thing to do, considering the apparent sophistication of the rest of the con. The whole thing is bizarre.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:05 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or is it kind of shitty of CFF to divulge how much money the guy's household has donated?

I thought about that for a second, but then I realized that this guy is publicly making a big deal about his support for the CFF when in fact he's not supporting them at all, so they have every right to point out that he's lying.


Yeah he's been publicly raising money for the CFF for years and has only donated $20, so it seems like it's in everyone's best interest for the CFF to out him as being a scammer.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:12 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Although he didn't say so explicitly, by highlighting this Lipton quote, it seems that Mark Singer does not fully believe that the son actually has CF:
"He won’t take pills in front of other people except family members .... he will not do what he is supposed to do if there are people other than our family members over at the house."
posted by pjenks at 8:16 AM on September 2, 2012 [11 favorites]


I've been around the Internet and, well here, long enough to know people make up things for no reason at all, or worse, self-deception. I don't really care about the why, but the how, and I'm sure it is deceptively simple, but I'm not familiar with marathons enough to figure it out.

From this article there were 11 chip mats along the route in the 2010 Boston Marathon. From this map there are no obvious short cuts, and he'd have to know where the mats are at all, something I'm having a hard time doing. Like the article stated, it would be hard to jump in and out of a crowded marathon like Boston, or at least be able to jump out, use side streets to cheat, then jump back in.

To me it is obvious that he's jumping in and out, due to the change of clothes and his chosen start position. He's somehow using his spectator status to get out of the race, then back in at checkpoints.

Dammit long weekends and Internet mysteries are why I do not get anything done.
posted by geoff. at 8:18 AM on September 2, 2012


epo: "And why is New Yorker piling on Kip Litton like this?"

EPOnysterical
posted by exogenous at 8:18 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain what a "gun/chip differential" is?
posted by mediareport at 8:27 AM on September 2, 2012


Uh, never mind.
posted by mediareport at 8:29 AM on September 2, 2012


mediareport, I didn't read that as letting him off the hook, I think it was just giving more attention to Litton's brand of prevarication. As in, "you see, everything about that photo is suspcious, but if I were really guilty, why would I be acting so suspicious in plain sight?"

I also thought that the Amway detour was to imply that he was making money off of the CF ruse, by pocketing the donations. I'm assuming there was no solid evidence, but I read the implication there. (And/or just wanted to highlight another instance of ethical questionability, as with the pretend Ethics Board.)
posted by stoneandstar at 8:30 AM on September 2, 2012


This would make a great Coen brothers film.
posted by billyfleetwood at 8:31 AM on September 2, 2012 [22 favorites]


Oh, and I thought he was changing clothes so as not to draw attention to himself when he appeared randomly walking/shuffling along the shoulder of the road, maybe trying to disguise himself (maybe thought if he looked like a runner someone would notice?). I've never run or watched a marathon (though my hometown is very close to the cite of the marathon Paul Ryan lied about!), but that seemed to be the case when the black sweatsuit/photo evidence was introduced. Not sure.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:33 AM on September 2, 2012


Yeah, stoneandstar, thanks. What I was missing was taking Singer's "My smoking gun turned out to be no such thing" at face value. Reading too fast.
posted by mediareport at 8:35 AM on September 2, 2012


His trick to hitting the timing mats remains secret. It is very safe.
posted by humanfont at 8:38 AM on September 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


There's something fascinating about a liar. Do they lie to themselves?

Yes, we do, but we're usually not aware of it as it's happening.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:03 AM on September 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


His trick to hitting the timing mats remains secret. It is very safe.

It's the one ring? That makes perfect sense.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:08 AM on September 2, 2012


So, he rides a bus between checkpoints? Put his chip in an RC helicopter? He seems like a somewhat sad liar; for me the only interest is how he pulled it off - the article doesn't deliver on that really. Time machine? Teleportation?
posted by parki at 9:20 AM on September 2, 2012


There must be accomplices involved. I wonder if the RFID badges are issued in advance of race time; that would give ample time to clone & issue to confederates.
posted by dr_dank at 9:27 AM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fascinating article, but damn disappointing in that there's no real closure at the end. I suspect if Kip ever entered another race someone would follow him with a GoPro camera the entire time to reveal how he does it.

Also, why did the article include a few paragraphs about Amway? It seemed out of left field, but is it supposed to make us think the paypal fundraising was BS in the same way Amway is?
posted by mathowie at 9:35 AM on September 2, 2012


His trick to hitting the timing mats remains secret. It is very safe.

It's the one ring? That makes perfect sense.

Or: Is it safe?
posted by Bokmakierie at 9:36 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


If he made a small gizmo that imitated an RFID tag for a few seconds at a given time, he could leave a few on the timing mats the night before to fool the system. He'd just need to be there at the start and the end.

Pretty unlikely that's the solution, but it does show the system is far from foolproof. Just having a video camera running at each timing mat would be a good idea.
posted by dickasso at 9:41 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe he's just a really fast runner.
posted by parki at 9:47 AM on September 2, 2012


I think he is so deep into deception, he's actually a 2:30 marathoner running parallel to the course and logging slower times for lulz.
posted by zippy at 9:54 AM on September 2, 2012 [13 favorites]


He seems like a somewhat sad liar; for me the only interest is how he pulled it off - the article doesn't deliver on that really. Time machine? Teleportation?

I actually am no longer curious about this after going through the very informative Kip blogpost site. I don't think it'd be very hard to pull off what Kip does. Things to keep in mind:

- Kip is already athletic, he's shaving a large chunk of time off his natural marathon time, but not an impossible amount.
- Most timing mats are posted and there aren't that many all but the largest marathons.
- He stays away from easy to cheat marathons like Chicago, since those are heavily monitored and recorded.

He starts off away from the elite runners, in the back where he looks like a non-runner, quickly exits the race and then bikes from mat to mat. Given his ability, I don't even think he has to cheat the entire race, maybe just half.

The key is that none of the other elite runners see him, either at the beginning or the end, he exploits the chip/gun differential to not be noticed. He only gets recognized after the results are spit out.
posted by geoff. at 9:59 AM on September 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


mathowie, after reading Merchants of Deception (the ebook is floating around the torrents and is out of print, presumably from legal pressure) about the Amway system, it seemed like a curious mention in the article.

Kip mentioned in the interview that he made well into six figures with Amway. If that figure is to be believed, much of that income is derived from coercing your downlines into buying motivational materials, tapes, seminars, etc of which he would get a cut. Moving actual Amway product pales in comparison.

That said, including that in the piece would help paint the picture of Litton as someone who knows how to make others do and think what he wants them to.
posted by dr_dank at 10:38 AM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


When some marathon obsessed dentist asks you if it is secret and safe your answer is Yes. See also when ghost busting and asked if you are a god.
posted by humanfont at 10:39 AM on September 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


I was coming in to say the same as geof. One way to do it is to start near the end of the pack, amble across the first chipping mat. Exit at the first porta-potty, optionally change clothes, then grab your bike and camera. Bike to the next chipping mat, you can hear the beeps as people cross, pull out your camera yelling encouragement to the runners as you get close enough to the edge of the mat to register your chip. Rinse, repeat until the end where you go onto the last porta-potty a spectator and exit a runner. Since you've started way in the back, you are still able to mix with a crowd of runners.
posted by forforf at 10:40 AM on September 2, 2012 [18 favorites]


Twins. the Prestige.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:01 AM on September 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't know much about how marathons work, but if so many people suspected him, why didn't one of them just follow him the whole race (so he didn't notice or something)?

As far as denial goes, it seems to do some pretty amazing things. I think once you're at the point he was at, it really is about lying to yourself, and doing it so well that yourself actually believes it. It's like alcoholics who swear they have not been drinking, it's you who's the crazy one, and even after taking a blood test or breathalyzer insist that there must be something wrong with the machine. It's no longer about convincing other people; you have solidly convinced yourself.
posted by chela at 11:15 AM on September 2, 2012


<dentist>By the way, since all of you asked me how I would accomplish this deception…</dentist>

If I could use a confederate, who would have to be someone I trust a great deal, here's how I'd do it.

I would running the entire course legitimately, but with my confederate and my transponder crossing the start line ten or more minutes after me. There would be a baton-like handoff when my confederate either sprints up to me or palms it off after driving to the first mat.

The time advantage I'd get by incurring a ten+ minute delay in my start time, while actually starting on time, would account for my being ahead of people I never physically passed, as that late start would be credited against my finish time as follows.

I start running for real at noon and cross the finish with my transponder at 3:30pm
My confederate starts running at 12:10.
My race time is now 3h20m because I was only running, according to the transponder times, from 12:10 to 3:30.

Even better, I have no need to actually run the start, I can just wait at mat one for my confederate to sprint or drive to me. Now not only have I shaved ten minutes off, but I've also eliminated 10-20 minutes of physical effort, making it easier to maintain a faster pace 'legitimately' for the rest of the race.

Alternately, if I don't care about gaming the clock at the beginning, I can work with a confederate who is, say, a high-level half-marathoner who is about my height and build and runs the course the same clothes as me (baseball cap, sunglasses). They can run any part of the race at all, since I never hang around at the end. I put in a decent first half, they put in a decent second half, together we've put in an amazingly good full marathon time.

With the confederate angle, there's no real challenge to 'gaming' the mats, just maintaining secrecy and handing off the transponder and then disappearing at the end of the race if it's the confederate finishing.
posted by zippy at 11:17 AM on September 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


but if so many people suspected him, why didn't one of them just follow him the whole race (so he didn't notice or something)?

From the article it sounds like he stopped showing up to races he was known to be registered for once people got really aware of their being something hinky abut him.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:27 AM on September 2, 2012


ack there
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:27 AM on September 2, 2012


At some point, you have to consider that his cheating at marathons IS the event he's trying to master, just like running the marathon is the event the runners master. He's not cheating to run. He's cheating to cheat.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:35 AM on September 2, 2012 [22 favorites]


after reading Merchants of Deception (the ebook is floating around the torrents and is out of print, presumably from legal pressure) about the Amway system, it seemed like a curious mention in the article.

Thanks for the tip on this. Looks like Merchants of Deception is available in various formats on Archive.org.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:38 AM on September 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


Probably I'm the only one who cares, but here's a more clear explanation of the gun/chip differential (emphasis added):

Guntime is the time between the start of the race and you crossing the finish line. Whereas, the Chiptime is the elapse time between you crossing the starting line and then crossing the finishline...For most of us Guntime vs. Chiptime doesn’t make that much of a difference. Most of us are just looking to enjoy the race and to finish. But there are a few of us that are very competitive and want to run our best race during these big races.

So how do you handle the fact that based on Guntime one guy finishes ahead of another but based on Chiptime he was actually slower...Some people seem to just go ballistic because they didn’t get an award when they actually ran faster based on the chip time than the guy getting the award.


I dunno, I'd probably be at least a little upset if I ran a race faster than someone else but they got the award and I didn't. I was honestly surprised that this happens in relatively organized running circles.
posted by mediareport at 12:05 PM on September 2, 2012


I don't know much about how marathons work, but if so many people suspected him, why didn't one of them just follow him the whole race (so he didn't notice or something)?

I was thinking that myself, but bear in mind that you're asking someone to potentially follow an actual sub-3:00 marathon runner for 26.2 miles. The only people who are going to be able to do that are marathon runners, and a marathon runner at a marathon is fairly likely to want to run the actual marathon rather than follow some guy who's probably going to be running pretty fast, since he's allegedly cheating and all.
posted by Etrigan at 12:08 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


What if the confederates didn't actually know that they were confederates? In other words, other runners who got a chip placed on them?
posted by iamkimiam at 12:11 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I'd probably be at least a little upset if I ran a race faster than someone else but they got the award and I didn't. I was honestly surprised that this happens in relatively organized running circles.

People that are quick enough to potentially place usually try to be on the start line when the gun goes off, though.
posted by ftm at 12:12 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised at this, since timed and chipped race rules usually stipulate that a runner's bib be visible throughout the race.
posted by SillyShepherd at 12:34 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


IAmA Marathoner! Let's correct some misconceptions!

dr_dank: I wonder if the RFID badges are issued in advance of race time; that would give ample time to clone & issue to confederates.

Unless the race is very small/DIY, there's an expo (or "packet pickup") where runners get their chips, t-shirts, etc., either one or two days before the race. Many (not all) races require you to show ID when picking up your bib and chip, and some even have a station where you scan your chip to activate it and there's a little screen that shows your name at bib number for confirmation.

geoff: - Most timing mats are posted and there aren't that many all but the largest marathons.

Posted? In my experience, mats are often placed kind of randomly and the locations aren't revealed ahead of time exactly so one has to travel the whole course to hit them all. There are some races where there are mats places at specific points (like 15K and 30K, as mentioned in the article) but those aren't the only ones along the course.

Not to mention that there are usually a ton of volunteers & spectators standing around each mat area, so it's often kind of difficult to just amble through quickly and then run off to a side street to pick up your short cut/transport to the next point.

scruss: Do all the mats in a race have to trigger in order for someone to list as a finisher?

I believe so, and I would be extremely skeptical that anyone who didn't hit all of them would be eligible for any kind of award at the end. (I had a friend whose chip malfunctioned during the NYC Marathon last year and there is no record of her time.) Obviously, when you cross the finish line physically, somebody gives you a finisher's medal (not to be confused with award medals, which are usually handed out at a small ceremony an hour or so later), but it would be suspicious if you didn't have a bib number on.

Of course, with a trail race there usually aren't any mats, but there's also a lot more difficulty jumping onto or off the course...funny that he made up the one trail run mentioned in the story.
posted by psoas at 1:12 PM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, holy crap, the comments on the "West Wyoming Marathon" are just insanely, stunningly fake.
posted by psoas at 1:15 PM on September 2, 2012


Psoas, thanks for the link:
This course is truly a runner's dream! I would like to thank Rich Rodriguez for all of his efforts to make this possible. I had a toothache that I was unable to get attended to before the race, but Rich helped with that as well. He is amazing!
posted by purpleclover at 1:35 PM on September 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Re: gun time vs chip time, I just looked at the rules of two major races and they both actually only count gun time for cash prize considerations. So while everyone is in the same race, really you can only win if you're included in the elite/pro starting group. IIRC there is a minor kerffuffle every once in a while when some amateur runs the race of their life and would have placed based on chip time but isn't eligible for prize money.
posted by ghharr at 1:42 PM on September 2, 2012


"His average pace was seven and a half minutes per mile: a good novice result."

Hey! I am not a novice. I just run for fun.
posted by vidur at 1:43 PM on September 2, 2012


Psoas, thanks for the link

...and on second thought, it's pretty likely those are all Let's Run forumgoers making hay of the listing when this story first broke there. (January last year? Wow, that's some lead time.)
posted by psoas at 2:01 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reading this article I had the same sense of intoxication and weariness that I have when reading a Stephen King book...tiring and depressing but almost impossible to put down.
posted by arnicae at 2:16 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


That poor exploited kid. His father has spent *years* traveling all over the country pretending to raise money in his name, all of it bullshit. What a horrible thing to do to a kid. If he has CF, then how awful that his father squandered so many of their limited resources (money, time) on a lie that not only didn't help the cause but may result in turning people away from it. And if he doesn't have CF, then, well, I can't even fathom the munchausen-ish state of mind where that kind of exploitation exists.

And then, projecting like nobody's business, he says of his kid, "He just desperately wants to fit in."
posted by headnsouth at 2:23 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yep, I got the munchausen-ish vibe, too. And I flashed on an article I read a while ago (by a teacher?) that described how children now say "I want to a famous singer/writer/actor like X " instead of "I want to sing/write/act". Of course, that writer's main point was FAME! but it seems that this Kip person doesn't actually want to run. Performance art of some kind, I guess. With himself as part of the admiring audience as well as a participatory fan. Not forgetting the possible fraudulent donation sideline.
posted by likeso at 3:34 PM on September 2, 2012


Also, did anyone report any dogs following along the course? Intelligent, hardy, trainable dogs like border collies? A team of border collies with collars? In bicycle sidecars?
posted by likeso at 3:42 PM on September 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Has anyone verified that his kid actually exists? He makes up everything else, why not the kid too?
posted by Xoc at 4:48 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


What a fascinating and bizarre story.
posted by grouse at 6:33 PM on September 2, 2012


Goddamn, people are weird.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:54 PM on September 2, 2012


I got to hand it to the guy.They are right, his dedication to cheating is astounding. I would love to see all out free-for-all athletic event where the goal is to "hack" the event. Skirt the rules and cheat however possible.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:16 PM on September 2, 2012


Calvinball?
posted by granted at 7:34 PM on September 2, 2012


I'd like to see the effort he put into cheating applied to fundraising for CF as penance.
posted by arcticseal at 8:47 PM on September 2, 2012


Krugman on Rosie Ruiz Republicans
posted by Chekhovian at 9:46 PM on September 2, 2012


Throughout that article I couldn't help but think of that episode of Monk where a guy has a legit-seeming alibi for murder because he taped his time chip on a pace bike the night before. Though I think the two runners sharing one chip theory is more plausible.
posted by troika at 9:48 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, uh, sorry about the spoilers for an episode of tv from 2002 there.
posted by troika at 9:50 PM on September 2, 2012


How perfect it would be if the entire story were made up.
posted by orme at 10:16 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would love to see all out free-for-all athletic event where the goal is to "hack" the event. Skirt the rules and cheat however possible.

Allow me to introduce you to the Dipsea Race.
posted by zippy at 12:16 AM on September 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the tip on this. Looks like Merchants of Deception is available in various formats on Archive.org.


I found it on the author's website (?) as well. He could have benefited from an editor, but it's fascinating stuff nonetheless. I worked, briefly, for a convention registration company in ATL during the early 90s and remember seeing groups with oddball names and improbably large attendee counts on the calendar for the big venues in town. Turns out most of them were groups mentioned in this book. Others were other MLM-type organizations, and the rest were run-of-the-mill industry trade shows.
posted by jquinby at 9:59 AM on September 3, 2012


This is a sad, sad human being. He's been caught MULTIPLE TIMES doing this shit. People are tracking his ass and blogging about it. And yet he still keeps doing it, unashamedly, unabashedly. Makes up another lame story about his disqualification (from tons of races), maybe deletes his fake credit, and moves on to new and just as stupid lies. Doesn't stop, doesn't admit it, just ... keeps... going. Does making up this crap actually make him feel good about himself for reals? All of these fake testimonials for himself that he makes up, do they make him feel warm and fuzzy about what a good guy he is? And if he genuinely has a thriving dental practice and loving family at home, what's missing that he has to go around making up stuff about himself on the Internet? I get that being a dentist and father of three isn't exactly fame material enough for the ego that wants attention, but why target marathons for your method of getting attention when people can figure out that you're cheating?

I definitely nth the "at the very least, the kid doesn't have the disease" stuff. If he even has kids and a family at all.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:02 AM on September 3, 2012


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