US election special: politicians marathon times

US Republican vice-president nominee Paul Ryan made headlines earlier this year when he exaggerated his marathon PB by more than an hour, claiming to have run sub-3 hours for the 26.2 miles. He got caught out though and later revealed his best time was in fact 4:01:25 for the 1990 Grandma’s Marathon.

In honour of the election fever though Marathon Intervals has put together a list of marathon times by US presidential nominees:

  • George W Bush, President – 3:44:52 in the 1993 Houston Marathon
  • Al Gore, Vice President – 4:58:25 in the 1997 Marine Corps Marathon
  • Sarah Palin, Republican Vice President nominee – 3:59:36 in the 2005 Humpy’s Marathon
  • John Edwards, Democrat Vice President nominee – 3:30:18 in the 1983 Marine Corps Marathon
  • Paul Ryan, Republican Vice President nominee – 4:01:25 in the 1990 Grandma’s Marathon

It seems as though marathon scams are not unique just to the US though, with 2006 Mexican President nominee Roberto Madrazo having a scandal of his own in the 2007 Berlin Marathon. Madrazo recorded a blistering 2:41:12 and was overall winner for the over 55 year age group. However with the evidence of data tracking and two missed timing points, Madrazo was revealed as a cheat.

Jimmy Carter, the 39th US President never ran a marathon but was an avid runner. He is quoted as saying “Everyone who has run knows that its most important value is in removing tension and allowing a release from whatever other cares the day may bring”. During his presidency he regularly ran five miles (at 7:30 mile pace!) and created headlines by collaping in his first road race in the Catoctin Mountains in September, 1979.

Bill Clinton running with his Secret Service attache

42nd US President Bill Clinton was also an avid runner, causing headaches for his security detail by wanting to run on unplanned routes in public. And while Ronald Reagan was not a runner himself, there is a half marathon event that bears his name – though mainly due to the fact it is held on the Reagan Parkway as opposed to any link to Reagan himself!

Both current nominees, incumbent Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are perceived as fit although neither have run a marathon, but Romney has a resting heart rate that most marathoners would be proud of – 40 beats per minute, which his doctor attributes to “past intensive exercise with regular running“.

There are many other world leaders and politicians that have also completed the marathon distance but I’ll limit this to US presidents given that is what the election is all about. I still think I’d rather be running as opposed to running for office, but the evidence shows the two are more closely linked than would first appear.



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