The Washington Post

Paul Ryan’s marathon runs to Charlotte

(Mary Altaffer/AP)

Look for the Democrats to feature his Aug. 22 claim to radio host Hugh Hewitt that he ran a marathon — with the unfortunate name “Grandma’s Marathon” — in two hours and 50 minutes as they try to wrap a “liar” label around him.

The marathon claim wasn’t looked into until eight days later, not by a fact-checking operation but by Runner’s World magazine’s Newswire Web site, when its news editor, author Scott Douglas, came across the Hewitt interview. Douglas thought Ryan’s time seemed mighty fast. It didn’t take long to find out Ryan’s real time was a bit over four hours, not under three.

The Aug. 31 debunking propelled the 40-some-year-old niche magazine, circulation around 700,000, out of the world of avid runners and into the political discussion.

“It’s the highest-profile thing we’ve run,” Douglas, who used to live in Bethesda, told In The Loop. The article itself got 230 comments, he said, “which is a lot for us, a whole lot,” and 1,324 comments on its Facebook page.

Runners, it seems, are a bipartisan group. While a small number of comments included the words “cancel my subscription” and others questioned whether the magazine should report on these things, most simply didn’t believe it was possible that a marathoner, any marathoner, would ever forget his or her times.

Many comments joked about it. Our favorite came from “Wheat Farmer” who wrote: “Paul Ryan ran a sub 3 hour marathon?? He must be Kenyan. Check his birth certificate!”

Well, you could say, as former GOP Rep. Henry Hyde (Ill.) said in 1998 of his sexual affair 30 or so years earlier — when he was 41 — that it was a “youthful indiscretion.” Ryan is, after all, only 42.

And the GOP need not worry: The Runner’s World scoop is unlikely ever to run in the magazine — the November issue is already at the printer, Douglas told us.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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