Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Biggest B.S. Artists

I know some of us in the running communities online have already spent time during the past twenty four hours, beating the dead horse over The Biggest Loser's big fabrication about Dane's supposed marathon finish, but the more I think about it, the more it bothers me. My husband and I were watching the episode, and beyond getting annoyed by the "Dane finished the 26 mile marathon (let me tell you, that last .2 of the 26.2 total miles, up the hill at MCM finish, was one of the hardest physical things I've ever done), we also were confused by what appeared to be 5:53 on the time clock, not 3:53, as the show's producers claimed.

Later, we learned that he and his wife were actually picked up by a van and driven anywhere between three miles to ????? down the course. It's he said/she said with regard to the exact distance in the van, but even Dane's wife admits that it is true that they did not run a marathon. They also do not appear in the official race results. When a race has been timed professionally, by paid timing companies, this doesn't happen unless someone had a DNF, did not start, or was disqualified.

It might sound odd to say "I know what a 3:53 pace looks like, and that wasn't it"-but it's true. I finished my first marathon with the 3:45-4:00 finish crowd, and I was confused by their claim. My husband was on the course at MCM, watching the race, and he picked up on the disconnect there as well. You HURT at that point, regardless of your pace, and if you're shooting for a sub-4 or any BQ're desperately turning your legs over as fast as you can. Even if you're not shooting for that pace range-from beginning, to middle, to the back of the pack, you're focused and trying to overcome those last 6.2 miles.

To be clear, my rant really has nothing to do with finish time-in fact, it's a rant that they'd insult and devalue the fine performances of ANYONE who spends months training, culminating with moving their body without outside help over a race course for 26.2 miles. This is especially true for mid to back of packers who trained and fought their way through to the finish honestly, and spend much more time out on the course. That's hard, physically and psychologically, to be out there for six or seven hours. I believe that those of us who have ever been overweight, and then gotten in shape, celebrate those efforts of others to do the same thing. Lying, and claiming to do something you didn't really do, though-LAME. The show's producers obviously play a huge part in staging the whole thing as well, but Dane and his wife are just as guilty of lying and cheating as the network was for perpetuating the lie.

It's sad, because there are probably people watching at home who would really like to train for a running event of any distance, or a triathlon, and it does a disservice to those who are brand-new to running or physical activity to put out deliberately misleading stuff. It could also be really discouraging to people who might want to set a goal to run a marathon at some point and put undue pressure on them to achieve a certain time based on a television show's distorted view of this guy's non-marathon. It would have been MUCH more impressive to see him finish his own seven hour marathon from start to finish, as someone who was previously obese, than the cheesy attempt to trick people into believing he trained for, and ran a sub-4 marathon with a month or two of training.

I think I am getting to the incoherent ramble portion of this blog entry, so now that I've said my peace and counted to three, I'll leave it be. I'm curious to see what happens from this point on, and if honesty will prevail on the part of NBC, and the contestant at the center of the controversy.


Oz Runner said...

totally agree with you....I was wondering how he could finish in sub 4 hour time...I knew there was no way...I mean there are runners that spend their whole lives trying to run a sub 4 hour marathon...when I saw the time clock I thought it was 5:53, but then they said 3:53, I had to rewind it just to check, and sure enough the bulbs weren't burnt out and you couldn't tell...what a bummer

Black Bear! said...

Great entry! Yea, what a bunch of hooey. I don't even watch the show and it makes me mad.

TiredMamaRunning said...

The surprising postscript to this is that NBC did admit and apologize...sort of.

It's lame...America loves an underdog and the TRUTH that he probably would've been looking at a DNF for missing the time cutoff would've caused a LOT more people to appreciate his efforts and rally around him.

There were a number of Marathon Maniacs at the race (it's apparently a Maniacs favorite), everyone knows everyone or gets to know everyone during the race, and there are a number of eyewitness accounts that they took a van for a lot more than three miles.

Oh well. I'm flogging the dead horse again. Must stop. It's dead already.