The “Wish Runner” – Triathlete’s World Record Attempt In Question

The man who calls himself "The Wish Runner" is attempting a World Record. His request was officially accepted by Guinness in January of this year.
The man who calls himself  “The Wish Runner” is attempting a World Record. His request was officially accepted by Guinness in January of this year. He is attempting to beak the record for most Ironman 70.3 races completed in a year. The current record is 23 set by Robert Verhelst in 2015.
I was asked to review his results, and I passed this on to a friend who has helped me investigate runners in the past. This friend primarily participates in triathlons – I relied on him to help me with the many questions I had regarding cutoff times, transitiuons, etc…

A DAUNTING TASK

His Athlinks profile shows one Ironman 70.3 race in his history.
He finished  965th out of 978 overall. It would be a challenge for Jason to get this record if this performance is indicative of what to expect going forward. According to cutoff standards that I found, similar times would result in him missing the cutoff.
His goal, as posted on Facebook is to complete 30 Half Ironmans in 12 months. He completed his first attempt in December.
A marked improvement from his first effort. Let’s look at the splits.
Had HITS enforced the cutoffs, Jason would have been done after the bike portion. The cutoff would typically be 5 hours and 10 minutes. Jason finished just shy of 6 hours.
What stood out was the run. He completed the run in 1:32:18. Looking at his Athlinks history, all of his standalone half marathons are over 2 hours. Also, it would appear that he was struggling. His swim and bike portions were slower than in his October 1/2 Triathlon.
For (nearly?) 13.1 miles, after a swimming for over 1 hour, and biking for over 4-1/2 hours, he ran at a pace faster than his 5K personal record. If the course was accurately measured at 13.1 miles, he ran at a 7:03 minute per mile pace. His 5k P.R. equates to a 7:54 minute/mile pace.
 
One important note: Looking at Strava FlyBy Data  from race day, (Jason’s Strava account appears to be private) it appears the course may actually only measure approximately 12.6 miles. If this is the case, his pace equates to a 7:20 minutes/mile pace – still beating his 5k P.R. by over 30 seconds per mile.
 
There were no timing mats on the course, and the course seemed a little convoluted. It would be possible for a runner to get lost, but they surely would realize when they made a mistake. According to at least one poster on slowtwitch.com, there was cheating witnessed.
slowtwitch.com
slowtwitch.com
 
Does Jason have a G.P.S. record of his run? It would appear not…
Facebook
 
Whether it was intentional or not, I am firmly of the opinion that he did not complete the 1/2 Ironman in the time he is credited with. I have reached out to Jason, and have yet to receive a response. I reached out to the race, and received a canned response that they were forwarding my concerns to the timer who will review the splits and thanking me for my participation in the race.

Sponsorships

He has 19 sponsors listed on the site. He has posted that he receives equipment and product from some of the sponsors. I don’t know if any are contributing financially to help cover his expenses of traveling around the country doing these races.

The Wish Runner Project

The stated goal of the record attempt is to raise money for The Make A Wish Foundation. In fact, Jason hopes to raise enough money to make 100 wishes come true. According to the Make A Wish website, the average cost of granting a wish is $10,130. If this is the figure Jason is using, that would mean that he would need to donate over $1,000,000 to meet his goal. Jason explains that the regional average is lower, so the donation goal would be $600,000 for Make-A-Wish (6,000 per child).

At about 1:10 of this video he mentions some details regarding The Wish Runner Project and the proceeds.

“All the proceeds go to The Wish Runner Project, and Ten Percent of that goes directly to Make A Wish.”
 
Update:


Jason explained via Facebook after this was posted that 10% of donations from the direct link go to  go to Make a Wish, 5% to Children’s Tumor Foundation  and the rest to support the run. 


There are direct links to Make A Wish and The Children’s Tumor Foundation on his site.
My personal recommendation is that if you want to support The Make A Wish Foundation, that you do so directly.
Make A Wish Foundation – Donation Page

As always, I will communicate all updates through Facebook and Twitter whenever I make a new post or have an update.

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Categories
FeaturedGuinnessIronmanMake A WishThe Wish RunnerTriathlon
14 Comments on this post.

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  • Unknown
    3 March 2017 at 10:20 pm

    *MIND BLOWN*
    Cheating aside, i think collecting money for charity and pocketing most of the proceeds (90%! in this case) shouldn't be legal.

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  • Derek
    3 March 2017 at 10:31 pm

    His explanation is that he has direct links to the charities. The donations to the Wish Runner Project support the races. The 10% + 5% to the Children's Tumor Foundation was coming out of the Wish Runner Project donations which supports his runs.

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  • Art
    3 March 2017 at 11:10 pm

    Just a quick note of caution. You used the term "Ironman 70.3" and we all know what you mean. However, that specific term (and others) are copyrighted by Ironman North America and they aggressively pursue people who misuse the term. Case in point, the race noted above as his first race is run by a different company (HITS) so the race can NOT be called a "Ironman 70.3". In the tri community the accepted reference term is Half Iron Distance or simply Half Iron. The race distances are exactly the same, but they can't be referred to using the copyrighted Ironman name. When I started reading the article and it said he wanted to break the Ironman 70.3 record for most in a year, my first thought was are there even that many Ironman 70.3 in the US in a year. But if he is doing other brands, then I'm sure there are. You haven't done anything wrong, but I think it's important for you to know the lay of the land since you are not "tri-aware" so to speak! 🙂

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    • Anon
      5 March 2017 at 7:09 pm

      Unrelated, but I hear that runDisney completely erases Tony Stark’s alter-ego from any Avengers Half material to avoid legal trouble with the Ironman races.

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  • Unknown
    3 March 2017 at 11:21 pm

    You mean partial runs 😉 I'm glad he has the direct links, i did see that in the article, and as you pointed out you should always donate directly to a charity. Speaking in general, i just hate seeing donations that go through supporting someone's hobby, passion, goals, mission, etc. first.
    Don't know much about Triathlons, very interesting that it seems like he won't be able to keep this up without cut-off issues.

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  • Derek
    3 March 2017 at 11:24 pm

    Iron Man 70.3 is what iit refers to them as for the official Guinness record.

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  • Art
    4 March 2017 at 1:15 am

    Like I said, nothing you said is a problem, I just wanted you to be aware of the terminology. Keep up your great work; I support you 100%.

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  • Gregg
    4 March 2017 at 1:38 am

    great job, Derek. Not a tri-athlete but it seems like "cheating" is easier in these races than marathons. (see the NY Times expose from last year on one such person who cheated with abandon). Again, what makes this alleged cheater even more egregious is the money he's making off of this. Really reprehensible if circumstantial and analytical evidence is proven true.

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  • Rigby
    6 March 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Hmm. I don’t know. If you were to look at my half marathons in the last 12 mos, I have a 30 min difference in finish times from best to slowest. I rarely do 5 ks and my half PR is a better pace than any 5k in the last 12 mos. I’ve never cheated, but buy your explanation, it looks like I could be scrutinized. People can have better and worse days. I disagree with him collecting money to cover his races under a charity claim, but if he states on his site where the money is going, people should read that before they donate.

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    • Anonymous
      8 March 2017 at 5:03 pm

      Yes there may be a difference over a 12 month period. I think what really throws up a red flag is a time cut by half in a 6 week period. When you look at the two 70.3 races, the swim and bike times are comparable and then the run portion is 3 hours in the first race and then 1 1/2 hours in the second. Just doesn’t add up…

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  • Anonymous
    8 March 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Yes, there may be a difference over a long period of time. What the article is referring to, I think, is the fact that there is such a discrepancy over the span of two races. When looking at the two 70.3 races, the swim and bike times are comparable but the run is cut down by half in the second race. Yes, training over months will help your time but I just don’t think you can gain that much in a 6 week period.

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  • Scott Coakly
    10 March 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Rigby, I bet you could show multiple runs and data to prove that you can run a faster half. In other words, what I am getting from this is that this race is an outlier and there are no other runs in all of his other results that even hint that a 1:32 is possible. PR’s even recent on Athlinks only show 2:10 or slower. I agree that performance over distance can be different for some but most of us can at least prove in training data without using a bike that we can match that pace for at least 80% of the distance. This guy can’t

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  • Yamanote
    11 March 2017 at 5:53 pm

    Wow, this is way worse than just cheating to get a good time. Misrepresenting raising charity funds is fraud and would be a felony. Keep reporting and well done.

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