Paul Ryan’s marathon time hits the wall

Paul Ryan raised eyebrows with his claim to have run a marathon in under three hours.

associated press

Paul Ryan raised eyebrows with his claim to have run a marathon in under three hours.

Virtually everyone who’s finished a marathon knows his or her time all too well. Whatever the number — whether it’s the 4 hours, 1 minute, and 25 seconds in which Paul Ryan ran a 1990 marathon in Minnesota, or something much faster or slower — nothing about those 26.2 miles is easily forgettable. Which is why the GOP vice presidential candidate’s boast that he ran a sub-three-hour marathon caused such a stir in a running community that frowns on rounding even a couple of minutes off one’s time. While Ryan’s actual time was respectable for a recreational runner, the one he claimed placed him among the 4 percent of male marathoners worldwide. Three-hour marathons generally aren’t for newbies.

Neither are national political campaigns, as Ryan is discovering. Many lawmakers puff up their legislative achievements during campaign season, and until a few weeks ago Ryan was just a congressman from Wisconsin. But now that Ryan has the second-highest profile in the Republican Party, his claims about his past draw scrutiny not just from political journalists but even from Runner’s World — especially because his youth and athleticism are part of his public appeal. His marathon fib certainly isn’t fatal to his prospects, but there is an obvious moral: If you know how impressive a feat it is to run 26.2 miles in under three hours, you should also know when you haven’t done it.

Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.