Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Megan Hetzel
If Mike Rossi matches marathon time in question, website will give him $100,000.
It’s been almost three months since Mike Rossi’s Via Marathon results came into question. Rossi earned internet fame after a letter he wrote to his children’s principal regarding their unexcused absences to watch him run the Boston Marathon went viral.
The extra attention sparked scrutiny over the Boston Marathon qualifying time Rossi ran at the Via Marathon in September. Some runners believed his time wasn’t consistent with his other race results based on his Athlinks profile. Rossi also didn’t appear in any photos along the race route, except for a handful taken near the finish line of the race that started in Allentown and ended in Easton, Pennsylvania.
Officials at the Via Marathon announced they would not disqualify him unless new evidence becomes available.
The decision wasn’t satisfactory for some runners who are still puzzling over the situation, however.
LetsRun.com, a running website, published a detailed article on Friday outlining the evidence that calls into question Rossi’s results. The website also challenged Rossi, 47, from Rydal, Pennsylvania, to match his time at Via, 3:11:45, within the next 12 months. If he succeeds, LetsRun.com promises to pay him $100,000.
If Rossi can’t match or better his time from the Via Marathon in 2014, LetsRun.com will give him $10,000 if he runs 3:25 over the next year or if he breaks 70:00 for 10 miles or 20:00 for a 5K by the end of 2015. To earn the prize money, Rossi would have to make the attempt on a certified course.
Robert Johnson, one of the cofounders of LetsRun.com, wrote the story detailing the offer and said that he and his brother, Weldon, would personally provide the cash if Rossi hits one of the marks.
“I’m so confident that the logic behind this article is correct that I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is,” Johnson told Runner’s World Newswire.
Rossi has not responded to requests for comment from Newswire regarding the LetsRun.com challenge, and Johnson said Rossi has not yet reached out to him about whether he intends to take him up on the offer.
In May, Rossi told Newswire his time was authentic, writing in an email, “The allegation against me that I did not achieve a qualifying time at Lehigh Valley is completely false. I focused my training to peak for the [Via Marathon] race in order to hopefully qualify for Boston.”
Johnson said the issue “took on a life of its own” among LetsRun.com users, adding that stories and threads about it garnered significantly more traffic when compared to the site’s other content.
“I think the recreational runner relates to this story,” Johnson said. “The sport suffers from a lot of integrity issues, and normally they’re doping issues. But I think for the average runner, this strikes a nerve. When someone is doing it just for a Boston qualifier, it really upsets people.”
Johnson said he doesn’t believe photos from the finish line and the fact that Rossi is listed in the results is sufficient proof that Rossi’s time is legitimate. In the LetsRun.com article, Johnson detailed the evidence he’d like to see, which includes additional photos from places on the course other than the finish or the Google location history from Rossi’s phone. If Rossi presents this information, Johnson will pay him $500.
“My dream solution would be for him to admit that he cut the course,” Johnson said. “I think it would be admirable for him to admit his shortcoming in public.” For that admission, Johnson is willing to contribute $1,000 to the charity of Rossi’s choice.