*Spoilers ahead – don’t read if you didn’t watch*
At the end of each episode of The Biggest Loser, they show the eliminated contestant after they’re kicked off. A few weeks ago, I got annoyed with Blaine for saying he was doing an Ironman… and then giving distances that correlated to a half-Ironman. There’s nothing wrong with doing a half-Ironman instead of a full (heck, I couldn’t even hack one day of training for a half), but I thought it was really obnoxious that he fudged the distance and tried to make himself sound better than he was. Later, it was revealed in an online video that it was a trick of editing and not him lying outright, and I was somewhat mollified.
However, in last night’s episode, Dane was eliminated, and he talked about his marathon experience. This immediately made my ears prick up, as a respected member of the Marathon Maniacs had talked in January about doing the Arizona Desert Classic Marathon and seeing one of the Biggest Loser contestants cheat by catching a ride to the finish. She knew it was one of the black team members, but wasn’t sure which, and as soon as Dane started talking about the marathon, I knew it was him. I briefly wondered if he would pretend he had legitimately finished, and sure enough, Dane talked about “what a great experience it was to run side by side with my wife for an entire marathon.” Doesn’t sound like editing or missing words this time!
As I kept digging up dirt, I discovered that in a race report of the same race on The Melancholy Smile, Dane’s wife herself posted in an attempt to clear her name. The night before the Biggest Loser show aired with Dane’s “triumph” in the marathon, she commented:
“Hi! I’m Carli Patterson wife to the biggest loser contestant Dane Patterson. I had herd about your post and wanted to give you an explanation of what happened. I am so proud of my husband and his accomplishments. This has been an amazing experience for our family and unfortunatly this marathon has been a little exaggerated. In this industry you are always on a time frame and sometimes it is out of your control. We had stopped along the way to film at a water station and to make up for lost time our producers drove us ONLY 3 miles up the road. I am sorry if this has offended you in any way, but we are still incredibly happy about the 23 miles we ran. We were not listed as completing the marathon. Dane is an honest LDS Dad and I hope that they do say he completed this marathon because had time allowed he would have!”
While she sounds like a lovely person, I’m still extremely offended and upset. “Only” 3 miles up the road? Boy, if I could just run to the 23 mile mark instead of the 26 mile mark in all my marathons, I’d be pretty thrilled, would have a lot fewer blisters, and probably would have qualified for Boston by now. She tries to blame the cameramen, by which I think she means that stopping for footage meant that Dane and Carli wouldn’t make the 6 hour cutoff for their finish to count (on the show, we saw them cross the line at 5:53, meaning they just barely made it). My guess is that because they stopped to film in the middle (debatable, according to some first-hand accounts that there were no cameras on the course and only at the end), they knew they wouldn’t make the 6 hour cutoff and so accepted the ride in order to be counted as official finishers. However, that obviously backfired.
My understanding is that they were trying to finish before the cutoff time. I’ve been there. I tried to do a half marathon when I was injured from doing a marathon the previous day, and I powerwalked the whole thing, squeaking in just a few minutes before the three hour cutoff. Never had that cutoff been a problem for me in the past, and I went in with the best of intentions, but had some van pulled up to me at mile 10 and offered me a ride to the finish, I never would have taken it, even if it meant that I didn’t officially finish because I got there too late and therefore didn’t get credit for completing the NYRR Grand Prix. It’s cheating, and it’s wrong.
Carli tries to atone for their cheating by pointing out that they were not listed as completing the marathon. However, to me, this has the implication that they told the race directors or were otherwise upfront about what they did – this is not true at all. The course was an out-and-back, and many racers have posted their detailed accounts (like this one – see the second post) of how they saw Carli and Dane way behind… and all of a sudden, way ahead. Carli verified that they got a ride in her comment, but what she doesn’t say is that all the runners who realized what happened are the ones who turned them in to the race officials and got their medals taken away. Carli and Dane did not admit what they did until after they were caught.
In fact, judging from Carli’s own blog, she’s pretty proud of herself. The header of her blog layout features a picture of her and Dane with their finish medals, showing off their “accomplishments.” If it were just producer shenanigans and they were forced to get to the end for the photo op, she wouldn’t be so proud of that pic. If it were me, and I had to wear a medal I hadn’t earned just for publicity purposes, I sure as heck would not be publicizing that photo at the top of my blog. Besides, if they really wanted to make an effort, they could have taken the ride to the end, crossed the finish in order to get the film footage before the finish line closed, and then gone back and run the extra miles they skipped. Still not okay, and I’d be upset if someone did that and tried to count it as finishing, but the fact that they just skipped three miles and didn’t even try to make up for it really kills me – they didn’t even try to make an honest effort.
Finally, at the end of Carli’s comment, she says “I hope that they do say he completed this marathon because had time allowed he would have.” While effort is great, I don’t agree at all that that’s what counts. Can I say that I’m a supermodel because if I were taller, prettier, and younger I would be? Can I say that I won all the marathons I’ve run because had time allowed me to train harder and run faster I would have? I don’t think so. Accomplishments aren’t about what you could have or would have done… they’re about what you actually did. 23 miles is certainly an accomplishment, but it is extremely different than running a full marathon.
This fabulous site has a ton of information if you want to see for yourself. I’m disgusted.