Cheating sucks. Here at Salty Running we have several bloggers who have worked their tails off to qualify for Boston. Some have made it and some haven’t. Some of them did qualify, but were shut out from registering because they didn’t qualify enough. So it really steams me when someone claims to have earned this achievement and takes a spot on the Boston start line when good, honest people who earned it get shut out.
Enter Viral Letter-to-Principal Boston Marathon Guy. He’s the guy who took his kids with him while he ran Boston, received a form letter from their principal advising him their absences were unexcused, and then publicly reamed her out for questioning the educational value of witnessing their dad heroically overcome injury to complete the Boston Marathon. Sounds noble, until we learn of allegations that he cheated his way to Boston. WHAT?! Could it be?
Here’s the evidence. You decide:
1. His qualifying time (3:11:45) is incredible–maybe too incredible, given his recent race times at other distances. His BQ time is just several seconds slower per mile than his 5k PR. Rossi’s fastest 5k averaged 7:02 pace and was run 2 weeks after his BQ in which he supposedly ran 7:18 pace. 6 weeks before his BQ he ran a 5k averaging 7:13 pace. He basically had to run his 5k PR 8.5 times without a break. In fact, a marathon run at 7:18 pace would give him substantial PRs in every distance from 10k on up. While it’s not unheard of for someone to run a huge marathon PR like this, it’s unlikely. But when you factor in other evidence it becomes downright impossible. Most notably …
2. The weather was not at all conducive to running a massive PR for anyone. It was over 70 degrees and sunny by the finish. Have you ever run a marathon in 70+ degree weather and sun? It’s not particularly fun and it’s certainly not fast weather. Particularly …
3. When wearing a black t-shirt and black hat for the entire race. Take a look at his finish line photos and video. Would you still be wearing that hat at the end of a HOT marathon? Not only that, would you have dry spots on your shirt and look like you hardly worked? If one were to run the race of his life – by A LOT – wouldn’t one look like a sweaty mess at the end? Not convinced yet? What if there is …
4. No evidence that he was on the course between the start and finish. Most marathons nowadays have chip timing mats at fairly regular intervals to both take splits for those tracking you, but also to make sure you ran the course! If you don’t register splits other than the finish line, then there is no proof you ran the entire race. Rossi’s BQ race, the Lehigh VIA Marathon, did not have any timing mats between the start and finish, so there is no chip evidence he was on the course. Of course that’s not his fault. But it is rather convenient for someone looking to cross the starting line, run to his car and drive to the last marathon relay exchange-point less than four miles from the finish and jump in the race, but I digress …
However, there were photographers at several points in the middle of the race and not a single one captured him on film. (We know this because of an exhaustive spreadsheet that was created to find any photo that would debunk the cheating theory.)
- There are no photos of him besides the start (his own selfie) or finish line (pro pics).
- There are none of him despite his number being perfectly visible on his shirt in the finish photos.
- There are no photos of him in any of the photos from the middle of the race, including none of him behind or near any of 50 runners directly finishing behind him or 50 runners finishing directly in front of him and there are no photos of him in the lost and found photos.
- There are no other runners with clearly visible bib numbers who have no photos of them in the middle of the race ,.. except for Mike Rossi. And Mike Rossi would likely have bought some of those photos too because …
5. He is big into social media, tweeting, facebooking and blogging about his accomplishments any chance he gets … except when it came to his incredible Lehigh VIA Marathon performance, the BQ he so coveted and by far the (supposed) performance of his life. He regularly posted race reports on his blog or tweeted and facebooked up a storm before and after photos and commentary about his performances, but remained relatively silent about his more than 60 minute PR and BQ. He ran “the race of his life” and suddenly (and very temporarily) gained humility? He tweeted once about the BQ in response to someone asking him about it and didn’t blog about it at all.
And as soon as folks started questioning the discrepancies, he first deleted those comments and blocked the questioners. When it didn’t let up he disabled his Twitter account and made his Facebook profile and blog private. His only defense:
“I have a selfie picture of me at the start and there are photos of me at the finish and video of me finishing the race. The race bib system also documented me at the start and finish. An independent photographer took my picture at the finish.”
What’s really incredible is that if he never made that letter to the principal public, no one would have ever known he (likely) cheated. Much like the woman who cheated at the St. Louis Go! Marathon last month who would never have been caught if she didn’t bring attention on herself by winning the darn thing, Mike Rossi should have just kept his mouth shut. If he had, he would be tweeting selfies in his Boston Marathon jacket (2014 and 2015, in lspite of only having raced in 2015) and no one would think anything of it.
What do you think? Do you think the evidence is enough to conclude Mike Rossi cheated his way to Boston? Do you even care?