I’ve been following this along for the last week. The whole episode has me captivated. If it was another sport other than running or someone from somewhere else in the UK, I might be less interested. But as a runner (of a fairly reasonable standard) and based in East sheen (which is set to have minor infamy thanks to a cheat!) I’m super intrigued.
Unfortunately, as RY was steadily building his following and outlandish claims in 2014, I was suffering with injury and burnout and was thoroughly sick of hearing about anything running related, so I didn’t pay that much attention.
I knew ‘of him’ of course as he was getting himself known to all the local running clubs, running stores etc and many of my friends are runners in the local area. A good number of my friends and running club members are part of his fanbase and have probably met him and found him to be ‘a lovely genuine guy’ or whatever. I guess the first rule if you are trying to con people is to be nice to them – no-one is going to donate cash to someone that pisses them off!
I heard about the marathon-a-day quest as it was getting going and I thought, ‘Hmm, whatever, good luck, mate’, thinking that it was not an impossible task if you had a solid long distance running background, ran the marathons very slowly and were a decently economic & efficient runner and not susceptible to injuries. However, I still thought it would be difficult to do without ending up injured/burnt out.
How I wish I had done a bit more research at the time and discovered that he was claiming to do these marathons at 3am in the morning, still work full time, etc and that there was no real proof or evidence to back up his claims, and he had no long distance running background, just some fairly average parkrun 5k times. I think the alarm bells would have been ringing for me at that point.
Forward to the longest run without sleep thing. I had some awareness of this via social media posts from friends/runners etc. I had no idea until following this thread & checking out his website that he had claims to have beaten Karnazes’ record. Didn’t Karnazes run roughly same distance in 24hrs that is RY’s (official – fully observed?) best for 48hours? If so, how is breaking that record ever possible for RY? And if his best for 48hrs treadmill is 147, how did he do 130 in 24 hours (http://www.marathonmanuk.co.uk/2015/07/) on this jaunt? Bicycle? Car? Who knows? Who cares?
And that’s why he has got away with it, until now. Because no-one has really cared enough to properly check out his claims. We live in a society where we are all so super busy, and we absorb bite-sized snippets of information and take them at face value without digging deeper – we rarely have the time. Politicians and the media play on this in a big way – through out ‘facts’ and ‘headlines’ that we skim over and often trust and believe.
People who make themselves into social media/PR machines like RY do the same – plenty of hype, amazing claims, doing stuff for charity, ‘look, aren’t I wonderful’ social media posts – most people just lap it up and believe it all – usually it’s just the right side of believable and vague enough to not arouse too much suspicion – but RY & Co went too far this time and I’m hoping the British media are going to get a hold of this and take down this fraud.
I’ve trained and raced at altitude, in 35C+ heat, over mountains and done multi-day ultras. I’ve got a marathon PB 17 minutes faster that RY and I know that I would NEVER get close to any of those splits he was posting early on a flat multi-day in the UK, never mind in heat and at altitude. Without a doubt in my mind, they are completely fake. Full credit to the people here who have gone over the data so meticulously and to the people who met up with him and introduced him to what multi-day ultra running is really like.
The con that they have been up to has meant that people have parted with their hard-earned cash to support a liar & his entourage for a year or two of living it up. But not only that, they are making a mockery of anyone, in any sport or endurance endeavour, who has put in the miles/hours of training to complete an honest race or event, whether that be one mile or 3000miles or more.
I would like to take this story to the local news sites here in SW London but it looks like there’s a big group of locals involved in this – they might hunt me down and make my life hell!
PS – this is sold out (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-evening-with-robert-young-marathon-man-uk-tickets-25198212532) but I wonder if it will actually go ahead? If so I hope there are some real runners there with plenty of probing questions for him!!