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October 31, 2014

Marathon-gate? Paul Ryan’s false claim irks runners

Republican vice presidential candidate and fitness enthusiast Paul Ryan had to do a little backtracking on his claim that he ran marathons.

On a nationally syndicated radio show (here’s the transcript), Ryan said he’d run marathons, with a personal best of “a two-hour and fifty-(minute) something.”

That’s a smokin’ time. But it didn’t happen. Runner’s World dug into the claim, and eventually it was clarified that Ryan ran a single marathon – Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth – in 1990, when he was 20, NPR reported. His time: 4 hours, 1 minute.

Grandma’s race officials gave him a pass on the exaggeration, the Duluth News Tribune reports. “Anybody who can finish a marathon, it’s a respectable time,” executive director Scott Keenan said.

Either way – slip of the tongue or white lie – was it a big deal? Not if you glance at Fox News, which gave the flap just four paragraphs from the Associated Press, in which Ryan’s camp clarifies that he just misspoke and mistakenly rounded his time to three hours, not four.

A Salon columnist doesn’t buy that. Joan Walsh says Ryan didn’t misspeak – he boasted about the feat with specificity and swagger, she says. One New York Daily News columnist says it matters. The Atlantic correspondent James Fallows says it was silly to lie about something so easily fact-checked.

Here’s the audio: