Originally Paul Ryan was on record as saying he’s run a sub-3:00 marathon.
There was investigation done and Ryan backtracked and said, no, it wasn’t sub 3, rather it was more like a 4 hour marathon. (How Fast Can Paul Ryan Run a Marathon? : The New Yorker).
As his excuse, he said it was 20 years ago. It just so happens I ran my first marathon 20 years ago and it was around 3:47. Since that time I’ve run a number of marathons and half marathons, with the fast marathon time being around 3:24 and the the fast half marathon time being around 90 minutes.
In my opinion, it is easy to make a mistake and be off by a few minutes, but I can’t conceive of being off by an hour. Indeed, Ryan said he ran a two hour, fifty something, so he was talking as if he recalled.
Furthermore, the difference between a 4 hour marathon and a 3 hour marathon is huge in terms of fitness. Even the difference between a 3 hour marathon and a 2 hour and 50 minute marathon. Go to a marathon sometime and look at the people lined up at the 3 hour mark versus the 4 hour mark: the 3 hour people all look like they have been running along time (because they have).
There’s nothing wrong with running a four hour marathon. In fact, I suspect it is a fairly typical time for alot of first timers. I think it is great whenever anyone tries and succeeds to run their first marathon race.
I think it is less than great to boast 20 years later that you ran it in under 3 hours, though. It’s almost as bad as cheating. Maybe Paul Ryan wants to be the male version of Rosie Ruiz.
Whatever drove him to do this is something to watch for, since it might come up in other, more important, instances.