December 1, 2015
In July, we wrote a piece detailing how the evidence was beyond a reasonable doubt that Mike Rossi – the “Viral Marathon Dad” who had taken his kids out of school to watch him compete in the 2015 Boston Marathon – was a marathon cheat who had cut the course at the 2014 Lehigh Valley Marathon where he was credited with a 3:11:45 finishing time, which qualified him for Boston.
Nothing in Rossi’s running history indicated he was capable of anything close to 3:11:45. Rossi’s best times at 5k (21:52) and the half marathon indicated he was only physiologically capable of a time in the low 3:30s at best – nearly a full minute per mile slower than the time he was credited with. When that was combined with the fact that Rossi was the only finisher at Lehigh Valley who didn’t show up in the race photos, it was clear to us that he didn’t run the full 26.2 miles. We were so confident that Rossi cheated that we made Rossi a challenge. We said we’d pay him $100,000 if he breaks 3:11:45 in a marathon within the next 12 months (starting on July 16, 2015).
As part of that challenge, we also said we’d pay Rossi $10,000 if he was able to break 20:00 for 5k (equivalent to a to 3:14:53 marathon) or 70:00 for 10 miles (equivalent to a 3:16:30 marathon) by the end of 2015.
Last week, on Saturday, Rossi ran a massive PR of 20:25 in the 5,000 at the Haddon Township 5k Turkey Trot. Once again, that performance has many running fans, including ourselves, questioning its validity for many of the same reasons as before.
- As was the case in Lehigh Valley, it came on a course without mid-race chip timing so there is no way to ensure that everyone ran the full distance.
- As was the case at Lehigh Valley, it came on a course that easily could be cut (see course map).
- As was the case at Lehigh Valley, the performance was a huge statistical outlier. Rossi had run two other 5ks recently and came nowhere close to the time. On October 24, Rossi ran a 23:51 5k at the Race for Recovery. On November 14, Rossi ran a 21:46 5k at the Rocky Run.
Additionally, there was one very odd thing about Rossi’s performance. There was a huge time gap of 42 seconds between the chip and gun time for Rossi, meaning Rossi was one of the last people to cross the start line. Only 29 runners in the field of 743 started after Rossi and yet Rossi was the 48th finisher. So if you believe that the time is legitimate, you have to believe that Rossi was able to run a massive PR of nearly a minute and a half while passing 665 people, which takes a lot of energy and time as it’s not easy to weave through that many people in such a short race.
Did he cheat? We’ll let you decide. Rossi claimed he has an equipment problem at the start that prevented him from starting on time but starting in the back makes it easier to cut the course as there are fewer people behind you who would potentially see you cut the course. Regardless, we don’t really care if he cut the course as he didn’t break 20:00 and we don’t owe him $10,000. However, given the suspicious nature of this results and last year’s Lehigh Valley race, we want to make something very clear so there isn’t a potential lawsuit down the road.
If Mr. Rossi is going to take LetsRun.com up on either or $10,000 or $100,000 challenge, we want to be notified with at least 72 hours’ advance warning of the race he plans on running so we can check the race out and see if there are intermediate timing mats and if the course lends itself to cutting. If we determine it’s possible to cut, we are insisting that Mr. Rossi allow us to monitor his race from start to finish. If Mr. Rossi is going to take us up on the $100,000 challenge, we request one week’s notice and have the right to conduct one pre- and one post-race drug test. Any positive test (according to WADA standards) or refusal to take a drug test will invalidate our offer.
We have notified Mr. Rossi and his lawyer of these clarifications as we don’t want to have him cut a course again either to try to collect the money or simply gain the satisfaction of trying to get people to believe he was capable of 3:11:45.
We’d ideally like Mr. Rossi to make his 5k attempt on the track so we are making another offer to Mr. Rossi. We’ll pay him $1,000 if he runs a 5,000-meter race on the track before the end of the year in under 21:30 that we are allowed to live stream from start to finish. We’ll even pay for a rabbit to the set pace at 20:00 for him.
Discuss this topic on our message board: MB: Did Mike Rossi (viral marathon dad) cheat his way into Boston? (17,442 posts and counting).
Related: MB: Serial Cheater at Marine Corps Marathon?
MB: Rojo says he might start a Kip Litton thread but only 1 and only 1 thread
2001: Martin Franlin: New York City Marathon Cheat – You Belong in Jail
Editor’s note: The article initially incorrectly stated the Haddon Township 5k Turkey Trot was on Thanksgiving. In fact, it was held on Saturday – two days after Thanksgiving.