Independent Investigators Confirm: Rob Young Cheated in Run Across The USA: SKINS Terminates their Relationship With Rob Young

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Source: Investigation of Cross-US Run Attempt By Rob Young

On May 14, 2016, Rob Young started his attempt to run across the United States and break the record for the fastest crossing of the United States on foot. Almost from the beginning, runners started to question the legitimacy of this claim. Members of an ultra running community, known as the ultralist, noticed his improbable pace – which did not align with his appearance in Facebook videos and photos. The ultralist was preparing to send runners to observe the run. In the meantime, a runner Asher Delmott had attempted to meet up with Rob to run some miles with him overnight in Kansas. When he came across the RV, he did not see Rob even though the RV was moving at a very slow pace, as if it was pacing a runner.

On June 7th, Asher started this thread on letsrun.com that led to even further scrutiny. Paces were grabbed from online postings and an online tracker and scrutinized. It became obvious to any impartial observer that Rob was not running the distances that he claimed, but many of his fans were in denial.

After Asher’s post, Rob’s pace slowed. When the ultralisters, “Team Geezer,” met up with Rob and observed him, he was running nowhere near the daily mileage that he was running when unmonitored and before Asher’s pace.

Rob’s attempt ended on June 17 at an IHOP parking lot in Indianapolis.

SKINS was sponsoring Rob’s attempt and launched an investigation into the allegations that Rob’s attempt was not legitimate. The investigators that were commissioned are Professor Roger Pielke, Jr of the University of Colorado and Professor Ross Tucker of the University of The Free State.

It should be noted that the evidence that was already put out there was conclusive to any impartial observer. This includes analysis published on ryinvestigation blog. This blog was referenced many times in the final report.

I will attempt to break down the key findings of this report which should be publicly released at the same time I publish this article.

Here are some of the key points from the investigation and the SKINS press release:

  • Rob Young received “unauthorized assistance.” This assistance refers to the conclusion that he traveled much of the early mileage while riding in a vehicle. The cadence data from his TOM-TOM watches was the key evidence used to reach the conclusion.
 
  • After Asher’s post on letsrun.com, Rob’s pace immediately slowed. There were 64 sessions of 9 minutes/mile or faster logged before Asher’s post. There were zero sessions faster than 9 minutes/mile after Asher’s post.
 
  • The conclusions in the SKINS report corroborates many of the conclusions reached by the analysis by the online community.
 
  • SKINS has terminated their contract with Rob Young.
 
  • Rob Young still denies that he cheated in his record attempt.
  • There is evidence of data manipulation both during and after the run.
 
  • SKINS is not putting blame on intern Michael Speicher. Instead, they take responsibility for putting too much responsibility on one team member. Michael is now distancing himself from the data and is no longer standing by the claim that Rob ran the entire distance.
  • The third team member, Dustin Brooks, was unavailable during his scheduled interview with the investigators and was not interviewed.
Below is the press release from SKINS. Click on it to enlarge. I have also included the links to the full report and Jaimie Fuller’s blog post.
A copy of the full report Investigation of Cross-US Run Attempt by Rob Young, Sponsored by SKINS by Professor Roger Pielke, Jr (rpielkejr@gmail.com) and Professor Ross Tucker (ross.tucker@mweb.co.za) is available on the SKINS website at rob-young-investigation-report
Read Jaimie Fuller’s blog about this matter here: rob-young-trans-America-run-attempt

THE “SMOKING GUN” EVIDENCE

The investigators refer to the step data as the smoking gun in this investigation. They present this data from a variety of angles. The full report will be available for those that want to dig in more deeply than I can explain on my blog. However, I am grabbing some of the best examples of how this data shows unequivocally that Rob did not run the miles claimed.
All the charts and data presented are directly from the report provided by SKINS.
Source: Investigation of Cross-US Run Attempt By Rob Young
The chart above shows many instances of impossibly long stride length starting after the desert incident and continuing up until Asher’s post on letsrun.com.

Of the 230 sessions > 3 miles:

82 had a step length longer than 2m – which is the cut-off that the investigators considered to be an implausible step length.

  • 18 had a step length longer than 40m
  • 14 had a step length between 20m and 40m
  • 14 had a step length between 10 and 20m
  • 19 had a step length between 5m and 10m

For reference, the Statue of Liberty is approximately 45m tall.

The step length data during the initial runs look reasonable. You start to see the impossible step and cadence data after the RV broke down in Nevada. That was when the legitimacy of the run first was questioned. This incident is detailed in detail in the report.

Below is the conclusion drawn by the report.

Source: Investigation of Cross-US Run Attempt By Rob Young
Source: Investigation of Cross-US Run Attempt By Rob Young

“Some of the step lengths are clearly not humanly possible by anyone.”

Source: Investigation of Cross-US Run Attempt By Rob Young
Source: Investigation of Cross-US Run Attempt By Rob Young
Source: Investigation of Cross-US Run Attempt By Rob Young
Rob Young did not record a single session faster than 9 minutes/mile following Asher’s post on letsrun.com
 
 
The report points out that the vast number of questionable runs occurred at night.
Source: Investigation of Cross-US Run Attempt By Rob Young
Source: Investigation of Cross-US Run Attempt By Rob Young
There is much more data in the report, but the irrefutable conclusion is:
Starting with the RV breakdown in Nevada, Rob logged many miles that he could not have physically run. The data from his TomTom watches indicate that much of these miles were covered in a vehicle and not by foot.
 
I believe the data above is more than enough for any reasonable person to conclude that Rob Young’s attempt was not legitimate. I will briefly touch on some other items.

Before and After Team Geezer

Before observation, a large number of attempts had impossible stride length. Once the Geezers started observing Rob, the impossible stride lengths disappeared completely. Also while under observation, the difference between day and night sessions disappears. (Source: Investigation of Cross-US Run Attempt By Rob Young)
 

Other Records

The investigators did not examine the other achievements and records claimed by Rob Young. Rob claims to own the record of longest time running without sleep. He also claims 370 marathons in 365 days as well as 420 marathons in 420 days. He also won the 2015 Trans-American Footrace. There are serious doubts in regards to all of these achievements.

Asher Delmott’s encounter in Kansas

The investigators agree with Asher’s assertion that Rob was likely riding in the RV when Asher first spotted the vehicle. The TomTom data corroborates Asher’s account. Rob and his crew have had varying accounts of that evening. The investigators do believe that Rob was running outside of the RV during the gas station video.

Michael Speicher – SKINS Intern

During the attempt, Michael was very vocal in defending Rob. From a post on Facebook during the run. In a Facebook video made during the run:
“There have been some allegation about him cheating and not running everything, I can assure you that he has run every foot, every yard, every mile by himself.”
 
When he was interviewed in August, Michael distanced himself from that statement.
“I can only vouch for what I saw what I was in control of. I cannot vouch for times when I was either asleep or not with Rob, or when I did not have visual contact with Rob. I cannot couch for the data, because I was not responsible for or in control of it.”
 
Rob, at all times, was in charge of the watches and in charge of the data. He was in charge of changing the watches. I was not his minder.”
From the media release issued by SKINS:
“The report also contains a salutary lesson for SKINS. We placed too many expectations on one staff member and under-estimated the work involved.  
 
I disagree with this assessment. There is no way Michael was not aware of any cheating that was going on. There was only one RV and Michael would have been with Rob and the RV at all times during the run. Michael HAD to be aware of the “unauthorized assistance.” Rob could not have ridden significant of stretches in the RV without Michael’s knowledge.
The issue is that SKINS should not have sent an intern. (Although this report is the first time I’ve seen Michael referred to as an intern. His LinkedIn profile makes no mention of him being an intern.) SKINS should have sent someone to monitor the legitimacy of the run and not left Rob and Dustin in charge of the data.
However, I can see the pressure and the tough spot that Michael was put in. I think he was placed in a no-win situation and I could imagine the pressure to go along with the scheme that he may have faced. I put most of the blame on SKINS for putting this young employee (or intern) in this position.

Summary

There is much more detail in the final report, it is over 100 pages including appendices and transcripts from the interviews, I encourage everyone that is interested to read the entire document. I am sure there are other items of interest that I did not fit into this article.
Hopefully, this serves as a wake-up call for Rob. He really needs to come clean. He would probably write a book that is more honest than Marathon Man, One Year 370 Marathons.

 

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Nobody is surprised. Thanks for taking the time to distill the report for those of us who feel we've already wasted too much time thinking about this cheater.

  2. Well put together, thanks. So another cheat bites the dust, but he is still denying it, amazing. Still many questions need answering though, especially from Michael Speicher, his comments defy credibility and Dustin Brooks, who seems to be a major player in this whole scam. Be nice if the word 'cheat' appeared in the official report and the statement from Skins (perhaps it does, but I didn't see it).

  3. Are they really putting a lot of weight on the cadence and stride length? I thought Rob admitted that the GPS was in the vehicle while he was running along side it. The impossible run lengths/times, especially the smoking gun of the stuck in sand splits, are damning. For the cadence/stride data he can just say "ya, the Tom Tom was in the vehicle but I ran alongside the whole way".

  4. However, Rob never made the claim that he ran significant stretches without the watch. Only that he maybe ran without the watch a couple times.

    Also if the watch was sitting in the RV it would not likely pick up ANY steps during a session.

    The fact that he has impossible cadences multiple times would mean that he would have had to turn on the watch, forget to put it on during the start of a session, and put it on for a short period in order to register some steps.

  5. It's possible that Rob only cheated when Dustin was driving and Michael was sleeping, or that he was ridding on the outside of vehicle at night sometimes without Michael's knowledge. What would Michael have to gain by lying?

Comments are closed.