New Identity, Same Results

Jo Bennett at Stone Steps 27k. Photo from Facebook

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Jo Bartlett showed up at The Stone Steps 27k as an unknown. This would be her first race that shows up on Athlinks. She finished as the 3rd place female, taking home an award and earning a comped entry to the 2022 race.

The 2021 Stone Steps 27k and 50k races took place outside of Cincinnati OH on October 24th. On, the course is described as follows:

Loop course on single track technical trails. Hilly course with roots and rocks and occasional tree blow downs. Mud possible but relatively dry course. Aid station every 3-5 miles.

The Stone Steps

It was rainy on the day of the race, and by the afternoon the course had started to deteriorate. But Jo was running ‘only’ 27k and would be done before the course deteriorated too badly. The 27k race consists of 4 alternating loops of 5.3 and 3.3 miles.

Jo’s split times as recorded on the website were as shown below:

Lap 1 (5.3 Miles) 58:46
Lap 2 (3.3 Miles) 49:41
Lap 3 (5.3 Miles) 34:56
Lap 4 (3.3 Miles) 40:47

It is clear that something is off with these splits. Her fastest loop was Loop 3 which was a long loop.

I reached out to David Corfman, the race director, and he advised me that Jo had said that she mistakenly followed a 50k runner to the long loop. So, she says she ran two long loops, followed by two short loops.

That explanation could have been the end of the investigation, but it also turned out that she missed a timing mat, and the times were estimated.

Her true splits were as follows.

8:30 am – Start
10:18 am – claiming two loops ( total 10.6 miles)
10:53 am – short loop 3.3 miles (total 13.9 miles)
11:33 am – short loop 3.3 miles (total 17.2 miles)

David characterized her long loops as fast relative to the short loops which he believes were reasonable.

Her large loops averaged 54 minutes – a 10:11 minute per mile pace. Impressive given the rainy conditions and the course elevation. Her short loops were slower, with her last loop slowing to a 12:07 minute per mile pace.

  • Missed Split. Jo was the only runner to miss a split
  • Her excuse of accidently following a 50k runner on the 2nd loop is unrealistic. According to David, she would not have merged with a 50k runner at the porta-potty, but much closer to the ‘obvious timing mat’.
  • Her fasted paces were on the longest loops, despite the porta-potty stop.

The Story of ‘Jo Bartlett’

In October Jo Benson setup a fundraiser to help her legally change her name to Jo Bartlett. Her goal was $1500. She raised a total of $1000. Before she stopped taking donations, she stated that she was seeking the change to Jo Bartlett due to ‘defamation’. She said the money was needed to pay for background checks, etc. A background check in Michigan costs $42. There are publication fees, filing fees, etc. Total fees would be well under the $1500 she was attempting to raise. Publicizing a name change through a fundraising site is suspicious behavior if the goal is to start over and become anonymous.

Before she started going by the name Jo Bartlett, or Jo Benson, she was known as Emily Clark. Emily gained notoriety as a serial cheater. I first wrote about Emily after she claimed 2nd place in The PeaceHealth AppleTree Half-marathon. Her story was picked up by her local media.

She eventually admitted to cheating at the race and many others. But even after her written admission she took to social media and denied cheating.

It should be clear, even without her admission there is zero doubt she cheated. She was witnessed by the race director riding a bike during the race. When she was initially questioned, she said it was her twin sister on the bike. She does not have a twin sister.

Just three weeks after her disqualification from The PeaceHealth AppleTree Half-marathon, she participated and was disqualified from The Chicago Marathon.

These stories led to revelation that Emily falsified professional credentials and practiced as a therapist without a license. After Emily Clark surrendered her license in Washington, ‘Jo Benson’ started practicing in Michigan before having that license revoked.

Beyond Running

Jo’s, or Emily’s deception goes beyond running. As reported first first in Willamette Weekly and then in The Ann Arbor Observer, there have been multiple issues related to her counseling business.

  • She claimed to have a degree from Harvard in neuroscience. She never attended Harvard
  • She practiced as a counselor in Portland, Oregon with an inactive license
  • After gaining notoriety from her race cheating, and initial reports of her fake degree and invalid credentials, she moved to Michigan and was able to get a license to practice under the name of Jo Benson
  • Eventually her Michigan license was revoked for ‘deceptive advertising’ for ‘portraying herself as a fully licensed therapist’.

“We count on our licensees to interact with the public with honesty and integrity,” wrote Orlene Hawks, director of the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) in a press release. “When they don’t, we must move quickly to make sure that the public is protected from those who don’t follow the law.”
Ann Arbor Observer, December 2020

In Conclusion

I took my time in publishing this article. I was aware of her GoFundMe page in December. I reported the fundraiser. Others reported it as well, and the page was no longer accepting donations within 24 hours of my initial report. Whether she took the page down on her own, or whether it was removed for violating site rules is unknown.

Clark already changed her name (even if not officially) once in an apparent effort to hide her past from the public and potential clients. Her focus of her therapy has historically been teenage girls dealing with trauma and body shaming. I felt it was necessary to publicize this second attempted name change to prevent her from deceiving potential clients in the future.

David indicated that they were going to remove ‘Jo’ from the results of The Stone Steps 27k and send a replacement award to the true third place winner. ‘Jo Clark’ had already reached out for her comped entry for the 2022 race.

‘Jo Bartlett’ appears in the results of one other race. Jo also missed the only intermediate split in The 2021 Strategic Staffing Solutions Turkey Trot 10k. She finished with a time of 55:09.

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    • What’s your beef? Yeah, it was a HALF marathon that first brought her to attention, but then she ALSO cheated at Chicago Marathon. Just in case you’ve been off-planet for two years, there has been a dearth of marathons to even investigate.
      Things are opening up now; it’ll take time for runners (and cheaters) to re-qualify and enter their marathons. Cheaters gonna cheat; changing one’s name, TWICE, has now been shown to allow one to cheat yet again.
      Try again, Emily.

  1. Wow. This is so wrong, what she is doing. And sad. Clearly this person is struggling with something more than legal and ethical violations. I’m not against your naming names here, but I’m wondering if this story should now move to privately notifying race directors of all her aliases and even future ones if you find them.

  2. This is classic Frank Abagnale Jr. (“Catch Me If You Can” hoax) behavior (especially the part about faking diplomas and therapist credentials). The problem nowadays is that with the internet, it is very difficult to pull of the Big Con. None of this can be cloaked anymore as your careful investigations have proven, including moves to different states, name changes, and phony degrees. Speaking of therapy, I hope she can get help.

  3. She also lied about being my therapist, when she wasn’t, because I knew of her lies and deception and she was worried I’d let people know who didn’t, so she claimed I was her patient in order to try to have me discredited. Thankfully the marathon cheating and the practicing therapy without a license had already been published by legitimate sources and I could prove she was lying about me. But what she did significantly impacted various parts of my life. Her lies don’t start or end with races.

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