Sunday, December 13, 2015

The strange case of Mr. Michael Rossi part 2

Click here to read part 1.

When we last left off with Mr. Rossi, he was about to be investigated by the Via Marathon to determine whether he had, in fact, cheated in their race to qualify for Boston.  To the chagrin of message board posters world wide, Rossi was not disqualified, and that seemed to be that.

As it turns out, though, this is one of the best running stories of 2015, and the saga just won't quit.

Perhaps incensed by the lack of justice, the creators of, the website that first broke the story of Rossi's alleged cheating, decided to up the ante in July:

Can't run a 3:11 marathon?  No problem. offered to pay him $10,000 if he ran sub 70 minutes in a 10 miler or sub 20 minutes in a 5k.

Nothing seemed to come of it, though, and so I lost interest in the story, stopped reading the message boards and went about my life.  Again, that seemed to be that.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving when Rossi entered a 5k turkey trot with the apparent intention of running a sub 20.  Which turkey trot?  The very same one I ran: the Haddon Township Turkey Trot.  Turns out I ran the same race as the scourge of the running community himself, though the coincidence isn't that enormous given that Rossi does live in the Philadelphia area and apparently grew up in Haddon Township.

I had no idea he had run in the race until the following day when I received a message on Twitter from Tony Rigdon asking if I had noticed him.  I ran a 19:39, and Rossi a 20:25, and apparently Tony was contacting those who had finished within a few minutes of Rossi both ahead of and behind him.  Something was rotten in Haddon Township, it would seem.

Over the next week, Haddon Township became the 21st Century Dealey Plaza, with the running nerds of dissecting the evidence with the fervor of the Warren Commission.  Though he did not break 20 minutes to collect his $10,000, they are convinced he cheated yet again and are demanding his disqualification from the turkey trot.

Their evidence this time seems a bit flimsier than from the Via Marathon, but I agree something seems fishy.  Apparently Rossi started at the back of the back, leaving a differential of 42 seconds between his chip time and gun time, which he explained away with a shoe malfunction.  But then he somehow weaved around over 700 people on his way to a PR.  He is absent from photos that should show him finishing next to others around his time, and no one recalls seeing him on the course, myself included.

I and others I know who ran the race responded to Tony, and I once again went about my business.  For reasons completely unrelated to the race or Mike Rossi, I decided to unplug from online life for a bit right around this time.  While talking to a guy in Who's Up? last Wednesday, I was clued in that none other than this very blog and my own name had turned up in's world famous message boards during my absence.

Apparently running a 3:01 marathon doesn't impress the Olympians of, and I was even called a hobby jogger:

One of my 8th grade students, who should have finished seconds behind Rossi, was mentioned time and again as a key witness, with some posters wanting to contact him or his parents and one poster even creating a fake account in his name.  All of this, sadly, is only the tip of the iceberg of the bizarre infighting, conspiracy theories and trolling that exists in this message board thread.

It's no surprise that Rossi denied the allegations again, deleted several tweets and later his entire Twitter account.

And that about brings us to the end of part 2 of this saga, but knowing Mike Rossi's love of the limelight and penchant for feeding the trolls, I have no doubt there will be a part 3.  I just hope I'm not a part of it.


  1. Yeah, we do have a bit of fun on the LetsRun message board, but you seem to have taken it in good spirit and come up with a very fair and balanced review. Pity there's not more crowd/race photos from the TT though, that would've really given us something to get our teeth in to. By the way, don't feel bad about the "hobby jogger" bit, anyone over 2:30:00 marathon is a hobby jogger.

    1. Hey anon, thanks for reading and commenting. Honestly, I was more amused than anything else by the whole thing. I'm on your side and hope Rossi gets his comeuppance soon.

    2. And here's some of the latest from the last few hours:

  2. Wow, that message board seems to be a little bit obsessed with Mike Rossi, and I can't believe they want to go far as interrogate children over some conspiracy theories! Your name shouldn't have been dragged in the mud, I'd be really pissed if that happened to me. Some people take things way too far.

  3. Wow. I thought this story died after the reward was offered as I didn't see the TT story. My name got slung in the mud for merely talking about it on the first round of controversy. The bizarre story that won't quit.


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