Sunday, November 29, 2015

Did Race Cheat Michael Rossi Attempt to Steal $10,000 by Cheating in a Turkey Trot?

After it was shown beyond a doubt that Michael Rossi cheated to get to the Boston Marathon, issued a challenge that included this: "we’ll also give him $10,000 if by the end of 2015 he breaks 70:00 in a standard 10-mile course or 20:00 for 5k. 70:00 for 10 miles is equivalent to 3:16:30 for the marathon according to McMillan and 20:00 for 5k is equivalent to 3:14:53 in marathon according to McMillan." To anyone who is a runner and knows anything about racing, they know that a sub 20 5k would be incredibly easy for someone that can run a 3:11 marathon. The point of this challenge was to hammer home the point that Michael Rossi was never in 3:11 shape because if he was, the $10,000 would have been easy money.

On October 24th, Rossi ran the Brain Injury Challenge 5k and proudly tweeted the following:

Here he is starting at the front and looking like it is a 100 meter sprint, did he perhaps break 20 at this 5k?

Michael Rossi lined up at the front of a 5k, started like a sprinter, and finished in a pedestrian 23:51!

On November 20th, Rossi tweeted "it's coming... and right soon." a very vague reference, likely taken from Shawshank Redemption, and possibly referring to going sub 20 for a 5k to claim the 10k:

Then on November 24th Rossi claimed to have run a 20:15 training run 5k:

Michael Rossi has made many claims. He claims he was exonerated of cheating and that he has additional pictures of himself on the Lehigh Valley Via Marathon course. But Rossi never backs up these claims with any proof. Ask yourself this - "If you were able to run a 3:11 marathon and had the fitness to run a 5k in under 20 minutes, but you were now believed globally throughout the running community to be a cheater, would you not accept the challenge and meet it in a publicized manner with proof? Such as at a track with video and witnesses? Or, would you post supposed 20:15 5k training run badges to your twitter feed and infer that something big is going to happen?" Likely, the 20:15 was tweeted to give credence to a sub 20 that Rossi was soon going to cheat to achieve!

Saturday 28th, Rossi tweets the following picture, obviously the start of a 5k, turns out it was the Haddon Township Turkey Trot 5k. 

The next tweet was this photo with the text "results soon":

We have a runner who could win $10,000 just by running under 20 minutes and he doesn't immediately post his time, something like "just missed sub 20 by 26 seconds..." or "I think I might have done it, just ran high 19:##!"?

Many of us who have been following the "Rossi saga" suspected he might have cheated his way to a sub 20 time and were waiting for the results to get posted. 

Finally, results were up:

I have sorted the results based on the chip/gun time differential to show how out of place Rossi is in the results! We have a 6:49 mile pace "runner" surrounded by people who walked the course.Very suspicious for someone going for $10,000 to not have crossed the starting line within seconds of the gun start!  As "Fat Hurts" over on the message board stated: 

"I sorted the data from the race. 743 runners finished. Rossi started way in the back. Only 29 runners started behind him. This means that to run a legit 20:25 and finish 48th, he would have to pass 667 of the runners in front of him. Nobody weaves past 667 runners to set a big PR in a 5K. He cheated again."

Was he hiding at the back and planning on slipping off the course only to rejoin in time for a sub 20 minute 5k? Did he mistime things and end up at 25 seconds over?

Finally, after results were posted online and the large gap between the chip and gun time was brought up on the message boards, the following is tweeted by Rossi:

Michael Rossi has since made his twitter private... So far, there is no definite proof Rossi cheated this Saturday, but given his history, it definitely smells funny!

Were you at the race? Do you perhaps have photos or video from the start? If so, I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Running With Cheaters

In 2011 I travelled to Austin Texas for the Livestrong ½ Marathon. I was having a great year and traveled to Texas with a big personal record (PR) in mind. As it turned out, the course was much tougher than I expected, not conducive to a PR. Midway through the race, as I struggled with thoughts of turning a PR attempt into a training run, I was caught by a group of runners, which happened to include Lance Armstrong and Joan Benoit Samuelson. So, instead of quitting on my PR attempt, I caught a second wind and led our small group of runners for several miles. Eventually Lance would pull away from me, but I went on to knock 10 seconds off my previous half marathon PR! My full race report from then can be found here.

Of course I was excited about the experience. Not only had I run a ten second PR, bettering a time from eight years prior, but I had run with and briefly led one of my sporting heroes, Lance Armstrong. I definitely posted about the experience on Facebook and Twitter (even though I don’t tweet often):

Knowing that I ran several miles of the race with Lance, I spent hours scouring the internet trying to find a photo of me running with him.  I had purchased the official race photos but I really wanted to find one of Lance and I. It took a lot of searching, there are a lot of photos of Lance on the internet, but I finally found one!
Lance was the focal point of the photo, but hidden behind Lance, you could see my distinct orange shoes and my blue tank top.  Of course, we all know now, Lance was a lying cheater who used legal intimidation, accusations of a “witchhunt by the French”, and the “I’ve been tested hundreds of times and never failed a drug test” line, to avoid being labeled a cheater for many years despite rumors and suspicion of his drug use.
I learned about Michael Rossi the same way many people did, the “viral open letter” he wrote.  Mike Rossi ran the 2015 Boston Marathon and took his two young school aged children and wife with him, making a family vacation out of the experience. Shortly after, Mike received a standard letter from his children’s principal informing him that this trip would count as an unexcused absence against his kids. Mike promptly wrote an “open letter” to the principal and published it on his Facebook page and various other social media outlets, but he never actually mailed it to the principal. The open letter was scathing and it quickly went viral. I must admit, on first blush, the letter struck a nerve with me as I tend to react negatively to the ever encroaching arm of government into family matters. I promptly forgot about the whole deal until I happened to see a thread on – “Did Mike Rossi (viral marathon dad) cheat his way into Boston?”

As it turns out, the “educational experience” that Mike Rossi had taken his two children on was achieved through an act of cheating; Mike Rossi never ran a Boston Qualifying marathon time! How do we know that?
1.    Lack of physiological ability – He did not have the physiological ability to run a 3:11 marathon when he supposedly ran one
2.    Lack of publicity – He didn’t publicize his PR/Boston BQ on social media like he would have if it were legit
3.    Lack of photos – There is not a single photo of him on the race course besides the finish, yet every other runner in the marathon was photographed multiple times has written an excellent article that thoroughly covers all of these points. However, pulling a page out of Lance Armstrong’s playbook, Mike Rossi apparently lawyered up threatening with a defamation lawsuit so their well written article has remained unpublished behind the password “rossi” on their website.
When I ran my PR in Austin, I tweeted about it, I let everyone know and it was only a 10 second PR. Mike Rossi at the age of 47 supposedly ran his first marathon in a time of 3:11:45, qualifying for Boston in the process. His half marathon PR at the time was 1:40:44, so he ran back to back half marathon PRs of 1:35:52, yet he remained silent on social media, even after he had posted this to his social media several days before the marathon:

That's because he didn't actually run a 3:11:45, it didn’t happen, he cheated! He was quite about it because he didn't want to draw attention to his unbelievable time before he had actually gotten into and run the Boston Marathon.
Following my half marathon PR, there were a bunch of official race photos of me. In addition to the official photos, I found the photo of Lance and I from on the course. At the 2014 Via Marathon, thousands of official photos were taken. Additionally, thousands of photos can be found online at various news outlets, but not a single photo of Mike Rossi exists from the Via Marathon course (besides the finish) because he didn’t run the marathon, he is a marathon cheat!
The whole Mike Rossi saga has unfolded through various news articles, but the primary and continuing story is taking place on a message board thread I mentioned before which can be found here: It is by far the longest thread on letsrun, should be topping 10,000 posts soon! I came across this thread fairly early on and followed it with interest as various runners crowd sourced the daunting task of looking through all the official race photos and identifying runners. While I was convinced fairly early on based upon the physiological aspect that Mike Rossi is a cheater, the photographic evidence was conclusive. I was fully convinced and thought a DQ of Rossi’s time by the race director of Lehigh Valley Via Marathon was a no-brainer. When the DQ didn’t happen, I (along with many others) was surprised and quite frankly disgusted.
I was already open with my belief that Rossi had cheated and was not being anonymous on, using the registered username – triathleteguru. When a runner on the forum had difficulty converting an animated gif to video so it could be uploaded to Youtube, I stepped in and helped converting the gif to video and uploading it to Youtube here:

The following day, Mike Rossi tweeted this:
followed by this (after a few unrelated tweets):
An 06' photo of me following a near death collision with a van in a triathlon
I am fairly certain he’s the one who posted this on the letsrun forum as well:

Taken as a whole, all of these are intimidation attempts, possibly even death threats. The threats and intimidation tactics go well beyond what has been directed at me. Several other regular posters on the Rossi thread have received direct communication from Mike Rossi that are veiled threats and even the children of some of his skeptics have been targeted. So much for “Father of the year”!
Do all cheaters, when confronted with evidence they cheated resort to threats and intimidation tactics? Those of you who know me well know that I was very vocal, you might say obsessive with Lance Armstrong and his cheating. I spent years as a fan of Lance, had books, videos, and posters, I still find myself googling his name occasionally and catching up on the latest Lance news.  He tried to threaten and intimidate his critics, how did that work for him? In the end, Lance was exposed for the cheat he was.
Mike, do you think you’re better than Lance?  It is obvious to me and anyone with half a brain you cheated. I understand lots of people cheat. The desire for attention, fame, glory, money, these are all motivating factors. With Lance, he was a great athlete who cheated to become even greater. I still consider it an honor to have led him in a race. Mike, you are an average runner who cheated your way to running Boston, but you remain an average runner, running a “scintillating” 4:01 at Boston. I don’t take kindly to your threats and intimidation tactics. You can become better, I have no doubt you could train and run a legitimate BQ time. You can also become a better person by admitting to your cheating, stop living a lie. I have nothing against you personally; I just can’t stand the threatening, lying, and cheating!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What kept me from training/racing the past year and a half...

I've never really had back problems, definitely never missed training or racing because of a bad back. But on Friday the 13th of 2013 I slipped and fell on ice. The following day I was registered to do a trail race, the epic 7 mile Pere Marquette Trail race. Leslie and I drove up the night before to her grandma's house and I slept on the floor of Leslie's old bedroom. The following morning, my lower back was hurting and I just assumed it was from sleeping on the floor, didn't think much of it. But over the following several weeks, as I continued to train and run, the back pain continued and got worse, growing into pain radiating down my left butt cheek and my left sciatic nerve.

It took a long time, many doctor visits, x-rays, epidurals, and MRI's to finally get a definitive diagnosis - bulging/herniation of the L4 and L5 discs in my back. Along the way, I learned I also have osteoarthritis in my left hip, most likely resulting from the 2006 triathlon where I was hit by a van. According to several experts, I should be running on my hip, which is why I will be doing more trail running and shorter/faster quality running workouts.

MRI from June of 2014
MRI January of 2015

This evening I rode my mountain bike hard for an hour on some challenging/technical single track and am sitting at my desk typing on my computer, something I couldn't really do a year ago! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Getting back at this...

Last time I posted on this blog was in August of 2012, so much has happened since then! I think it was shortly after my last post that I started dating Leslie Goelz and in November of 2013 we got married. In December of 2013 I ended up with several bulging discs in my back which kept me from training/racing through all of 2014 and it has only been in the past few weeks that I've started planning a come back to training and racing. With this in mind, I decided to resurrect my blog and website!

I had actually noticed a while back that the home page on my website was broken, I had some code that automatically loaded the RSS feed from this BlogSpot page as clickable links/stories. Since this code was broken and I was at a loss on fixing it, I decided to abandon my custom PHP coded website I had created and instead install a Wordpress based website. I've gotten the bulk of the work done with that project, still need to clean the site up though. Look for new/fresh content soon!