“LEJOG” is the abbreviation for a backwards Jon O’ Groats To Lands End run (JOGLE).
Earlier this year, Dave Reading announced that he was going to run the LEJOG and attempt to break the existing record of 9 days 2 hours and 26 minutes. Dave’s story (as he tells it) is that he was a heavy smoker from since he was 7 years old. He says he smoked his last cigarette in November of 2014 and began training for his first marathon.
With 11 weeks until race day and an average distance of five miles per run, I trained hard, completing the London Marathon on 26 April 2015, it still stands out as one of the greatest moments in my life, (children and wife aside).
He completed the 2015 London Marathon in a time of 5:04:14.
He ran some additional races in 2015 and 2016. In November of 2016 he announced that he would attempt to break a world record at JOGLE.
Prior to the start of his attempt, the internet (Letsrun.com specifically) started to question the attempt. It was obvious to most that this runner would never be able to break the record. His race history does not support his ability to be successful. This history was also scrutinized. This history included public statements that contradicted his official results, and other questionable times.
Despite this, sponsors had lined up to support Dave. They were providing vehicles and financial support. Dave would do this run to support Walking With The Wounded. There is controversy regarding how much money went to the charities. However, to date, none of the charities or sponsors have publicly complained about the allocation of funds. So, I will only briefly touch on the charity aspect of this story.
I have been in communication with Terrie Reading. Terrie is Dave’s wife and responded when I reached out through their Facebook page.
PREVIOUS RUNNING HISTORY
His prior results came under heavy scrutiny on the letsrun.com message boards. Partly because none of the results seemed to indicate the ability to break the LEJOG record, and partly because there were questions with the results themselves. Also, there was a significant claim that he ran the distance of 6 marathons in 48 hours.
2015 Norwich Half Marathon
His official time is 1:42:12. His clock and chip time are the same. This picture was taken near the finish. Runner #3186 had a clock time of 2:09:10. This photo clearly shows that Dave physically finished 27 minutes later than the time with which he is credited.
Additionally, the photos are time stamped:
His photo was timestamped at 12:41:15 PM on 11-22-15
Compare this to the timestamp of another runner who according to the results finished just 1 second after Dave:
The timestamp confirms the 27 minute differntial between his credited time and when he is shown crossing the finish line in the photos.
The theory put forth on letsrun was that an accomplice had to have run the actual chip ahead of Dave. I see no evidence of that when looking at photos of runners whose time was near that of Dave’s credited time.
There were significant timing issues at this race:
I have seen copies of communication between Dave and the race director. The R.D never mentioned the timing issues as a possible source of the issues with this race.
I have sent the race an email asking if Dave’s time was the result of the chip crossing, or if Dave self-reported the time. It would seem as though his time was affected by the timing issues, since Dave is quoted in the article.
Dave Reading added: “Great event. But paid for a service that I have not received what are you planning to do about this?”
Based on the evidence, it is apparent that he did not run the time for which he is credited. But it is unclear how it came to pass that he was credited with a time of 1:42:12.
When asked, Terrie Reading was unable to provide GPS data from the race.
2016 London Marathon
One result that fell under heavy scrutiny was Dave’s 2016 London Marathon.
Dave is credited with a time of 4:19:38. However there were no splits recorded along the course. Additional flags were thrown up based on Dave’s claims of a much faster time:
Dave was originally claiming a time of 3:12:46. He claimed the time in emails, as well as an Outdoor Fitness article.
In the Outdoor Fitness article he also claimed that he completed the 2015 AJ Bell Triathlon. He does not appear in the results of that race. I asked Terrie about the triathlon , she did not have anything that could confirm his participation in that race.
Dave was quoted in an article that he got the 3:12:46 time from an app.
However in the below email, he claims he got the time from his watch.
I have been in communication with Terrie regarding the time discrepancy:
“The watch shows Dave run it legitimately the time he run it in shows 4:19 on the watch, Dave had an app on he’s phone at the time that showed 3:12, not understanding how it all worked properly at that time we presumed one of them must have been wrong, and So went with the faster time of 3:12 as at the time there was no time showing on the London Website. I obtained most of the sponsorship for lejog and I did not once mention any Marathon times to any sponsors they sponsored us because it was charity.”
So, at this point, they are not claiming the 3:12. But, given the lack of splits, many have questioned whether Dave ran the entire distance.
The London Marathon uses foot chips. The foot chip is not visible in any of Dave’s photos. I asked Terrie Reading if Dave was wearing his foot chip that day:
Dave did wear he’s chip, it was on his back loop which is why it can’t be seen in the photos. Leyla confirms in her email that the chip was faulty and did not work. That’s all I can say. If Dave had cheated he would not have put himself in the spotlight by emailing London Marathon back in May 2016 to ask why there was no time showing on the website. Thank you.
It is unclear if Dave truly, for some reason, clipped the chip to the back of his shoe. Terrie Reading did locate additional untagged photos of Dave.
2 other runners are visible in the frame. I pulled their times to determine approximately where and when the photo was taken:
Looking at the times of the two women above, it is most likely that the photo was taken after 10k mark, and before the 15k. An email from the London Marathon also confirms this. That email indicated that the photo was taken around the 9 mile mark. I estimate the photo was taken between 11:15 and 11:20.
Terrie shared Dave’s GPS tracking through the TomTom website for the race.
I looked at the tracking in detail. Nothing on this tracking appears suspicious.
I also looked at his split. He started his watch at 10:02 and ran the first 9 miles in a time of 1:15:48. That puts him at the 9 mile mark at 11:18 AM.
It is my determination that Dave’s time of 4:19 at London is legitimate.
I do not fully understand their reluctance to share the GPS file publicly before now. I think they felt that London’s determination should have been enough to validate their London time.
I cannot make a full determination regarding Dave’s claim of 3:12. However, Dave did have motivation to run a 3:12 marathon. Dave was promised a £5000 donation if he were to complete the London Marathon in a sub 3 hour time. Terrie says that they never received that donation.
2016 Bournemouth Marathon
The only recorded split is at the 1/2 marathon point. Dave’s splits were as follows:
This would represent a nearly 20 minute negative split. He has been removed from the results of this marathon. I did ask Terrie for GPS data from this race. She said that they could not find data for this race.
Training For Lejog – Norwich to London
One claim that was consistently repeated was that Dave ran ‘6 marathons in 48 hours’ during his training.
Terrie sent me TomTom data from this run:
Norwich To London- February 2017 – 3 Parts. It was made clear publicaly that this was more of a team bonding run, where the team could test out how they were going to cope and work together as a team ready for LEJOG, it was also for fundraising, there were times where Dave rode in the support vehicle and they did not run through the night either. Also again some issues with charging equipment, when I say equipment I mean there was not only Dave’s watch to charge, there were every ones Phones, and a lot of Marks Camera’s and equipment that needed charging. Also on the saturday Dave sustained an injury to his ankle which became swollen, however he continued the best he could.
Her characterization of the training seems at odds with the public claims of 6 marathon in 48 hours.
She sent me the GPS data for this training run. There are gaps between the entries which could theoretically be explained by the charging issues she described.
I filled in the gaps using Google maps, the best I could, and no reasonable route got me near the 150 miles claimed. If they made detours for fundraising, it is possible that the total trip was 150 miles, but, as stated by Terrie, and shown in some of the GPS logs, Dave rode in the support vehicle for stretches of the run.
For this 48 hour period, the following is a summary of the GPS data: In calculating the average pace, I used the total time of the logs. Dave’s watch was set on auto pause.
February 3rd 12:16 PM: 20.54 miles 4:09:33 12:09 minutes/mile – it does appear that this file represents 100% running/walking.
February 4th 7:42 AM 15.26 Miles – About 4-1/2 miles of this stretch was ridden in a vehicle. For the first 55 minutes he covered about 4.75 miles. After this point (possibly when he sustained the injury Terrie mentioned) his pace slowed to a walking pace (from 16 min/mile to 20 min/mile)
February 5th 8:01 AM 22.48 Miles – His pace for most of this shows around 16 min/mi. The last 2+ miles show that he was taking transportation.
For the entirety of this training run, GPS data was provided for about 52 miles of actual running/walking time. Given the progression of his pace, the fact that he did not run overnight, and the fact that he spent time in the vehicle, the claim of 6 marathons run in 48 hours appears to be a gross exaggeration.
I messaged her regarding this claim shortly before publishing this article, and she had this to say:
That was the plan Derek but as you know things don’t always work out, and although we did say it was going to be 6 marathons in 48 hrs we also said it was a fundraising/ team bonding/fun run. As I said to you before Dave had an injury and he did go live to tell every body and showed he’s very swollen feet/ankles in that live video. Hope that makes sense. Thank you
However, as illustrated above, the claim of 6 marathons in 48 hours was made AFTER the attempt. It was not just stated as the goal, it was put forward as an accomplishment.
Joe Woodley, Dave’s driver put a statement out through a Facebook Ultrarunning group: In this statement he addresses this specific training run.
Norwich to London – Failed after travelling at least 50+ miles (30 in one day) in the support vehicle (6 berth camper from Capricorn Campers). Not prepared to run/walk on A roads from Mildenhall to Newmarket. This occurred again on other occasions to hop between towns and villages enroute to London (these were identified by DR & MH as the best locations to collect money and raise DR’s profile). DR lied on all Facebook Live feeds & posts claiming that he had continuously run/walked the distance.
Lejog – Over Before It Started
The fastest ever run between John O’Groats and Land’s End was 9 days 2 hours 26 mins by Andrew Rivett (GB) from 4 to 13 May 2002. Incredibly, he never covered less than 144.8 km (90 miles) per day (except for the final day), and on the sixth day managed 157.8 km (98.1 miles). He ran for an average of 18 hours per day.
On the first day, Dave covered just 49 miles. From Joe Woodley:
Day 1 – Very stressful as DR was trying to get as far along the A30 as quickly as possible. This coupled with his phone/media obsession has was snapping at anyone of us given the chance – All smiles and chatty to members of the public and the support drivers. Slept in a layby on A30.
Any claims at an official LEJOG attempt were done by day 2:
As soon as he took an alternate mode of transportation, the record attempt was over. Throughout day 2, it was posted that he would continue the Bike/Walk/Run for charity.
But by day 3, it was over:
From Joe Woodley:
Day 2 – Woke to DR looking at a map and declaring “I’m not going to carry on going along the A30 it’s too dangerous and it’s only about 13 miles until the A38 turn off. I can carry on that way and you guys can go and get some more signatures and fundraise. Plus cyclists can’t go along this next bit”.
I did offer to walk with DR to get through the next section(s) but he point-blank refused, wouldn’t discuss it. I was miffed by this as what was the point of doing the recce? A detour of an additional 30+ miles over terrain he had no training of to me was just stupid. This is when I began to get concerned with what was going on. But along we travelled, DR’s feet became badly blistered to point that I arranged for his to see a pharmacist and get treated.
At this point we should have rested up for the night but DR wanted to press on through the pain (wanting to be the hero?). We were also joined by our second support driver. During one of the times we were waiting for DR & MH to catch up, I called my wife to see how she was. This is when the reality really hit home that this whole thing was wrong and it had to stop.
My wife was concerned for own safety as well as mine, as she had been threatened online. This was on top of some of the things being said on social media & the LR forum, things which people would only know if they had seen it or been told. I confronted DR & MH to say “I need to get out of here asap. My wife has been
threatened and she is in pieces. You can carry on but not me”. DR instantly said “No, we’re all going home. There’s no point in carrying on now”.
I will state the obvious: Dave Reading was never prepared for this challenge.
At the very least he has exaggerated his past accomplishments in order to convince the public and sponsors that this was a legitimate world record Lejog attempt. He may have managed to convince himself that he could complete the Lejog. On a smaller scale, I remember when I prepared for a 24 hour race. I was not well trained, but I managed to convince myself that 100 miles was doable. That’s just a fast walk! If I don’t take any breaks, I could get close!
Make no mistake, the run didn’t end because of Joe. The run ended because Dave was ill-prepared for such a challenge. I will address the topic of the harassment later in the article.
Charity and Sponsorships
Much of the letsrun thread focused on the contributions that Dave claimed to have received. In the Tom Bristow article it was reported that Walking With The Wounded received a total of £1,248 in donations. There are many references on social media thanking organizations for contributing. In particular there were multiple tweets thanking one company for making a ‘generous donation’
However, I have not found one instance of a sponsor or a charity publicly claiming that money has not been properly dispersed. According to Terrie Reading, all checks were written directly to the charity. I just point this out to acknowledge that I am aware of the allegations and suspicions regarding the contributions, but unless there is specific evidence that money was not distributed, I will not be posting any more on this topic.
Claims of Bullying
After their Facebook page was taken down, a new page replaced it
Dave is planning to ride/run a JOGLE in 2018. He claims that he is doing this to raise awareness for online/Social Media bullying.
When you go too far in your criticism, those that may have deserved scrutiny can legitimately elicit sympathy as victims of bullying and shaming. I do not doubt Joe’s account relating to his wife’s concerns. Joe was just the driver and deserved none of that. Dave and Terrie deserved the scrutiny regarding the challenge, Dave’s past results, and probably even the charitable contributions. That’s where it should end.
I’ve been outspoken against the ‘shaming’ defense when it is used to deflect legitimate criticism. However, I do want to make it clear that I do not condone or allow any personal attacks on the site.
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