Note: Ashley’s result has been thoroughly analyzed and no evidence was found to support cheating allegations.
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Ashley Paulson finished third overall, setting the female record with a time of 24:09:34, besting the 24:13:24 mark set by Patrycja Bereznowska in 2019. This result was, unfortunately, not without controversy. Many are questioning the validity of Ashley’s result, fueled by a past allegations of course cutting, a doping suspension, an incredible finishing split, and observations on the course.
Ashley is currently a professional athlete and a popular iFIT trainer.
2016 – Sanctioned for Anti-Doping Violation
In 2016 Ashley was issued a 6 month ban from the sport of triathlon by The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Paulson, 34, tested positive for ostarine, a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM), as the result of an out-of-competition urine sample collected on September 14, 2015. SARMs are prohibited under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policies, the International Triathlon Union (ITU) Anti-Doping Rules and the World Triathlon Corporation Anti-Doping Rules, all of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Prohibited List. Subsequent examination and testing of a supplement Paulson used revealed that it was contaminated with ostarine.
I am not an expert in doping policies and suspensions, but it does appear that USADA believed that the usage was accidental, given the relatively short ban. The initial ban was 4 years, and was subsequently shortened to 6 months.
Course Cutting Allegation – 2018 Snow Canyon Half Marathon
Ashley initially claimed 2nd place, and a PR at The 2018 Snow Canyon Half Marathon with a time of 1:14.
In her Instagram post, she references a ‘correction’ and made the adjustment in the post that she ran 12.96 miles.
Well, this sucks!! Arg! I got off course near the end of the race today. I have no idea how that happened. I pulled out my phone to help me find the finish. I was SO BUGGED! I was too into my music I guess 😫🤷🏼♀️! I ended up going around the block as seeing the course. I ran up to the official telling him I got off and he said to keep goin. cuz my mileage was pretty much where it would have been on course. Well, turns out I was .14 of a mile short. DANG! I didn’t claim any over all position OR ANY POSITION. I was out there for me, Not a podium. I hate that I missed that dang turn!! BUMMER!!! No “race” finish for me. Oh well.. I’ll try again next time.
I’m sorry for the confusion out there. I guess people are saying I cheated . That was NEVER the intent. I simple am a space head and kept following the path…
There are a few issues. Once you go off the course of a race, you need to re-enter where you left. Even if her total distance was over 13.1 miles, she would have needed to run the ENTIRE COURSE to receive an official result. Her initial post made no mention of going off course, even though it was clear that she knew she had.
Additionally, I had received an email at the time by someone that I confirmed was present at the race. This person reported that Ashley initially claimed to the men that reported her that she had passed them, but they just didn’t see her.
There were other allegations on letsrun that she rode a bike in a marathon. I did not find that evidence compelling or likely. This was based on some alleged cadence anomolies.
Against the backdrop of the ban, and possible course cutting, Ashley entered Badwater with a perfect Ultrasignup resume. She has run 6 ultras, and has won all 6. Her longest race was 100 miles. She completed the 2021 Pony Express Trail Run in 17:26:40. Pony Express has been characterized as relatively fast. Badwater is touted as The World’s Toughest Footrace.
I’ve received many emails and messages from people that were at the race or closely associated with people that were there. The observations of these people only add to the suspicions. At this point, I have to keep these observations off the record, but I am confident they would share their observations with race officials if given the opportunity.
These observations and the sources of the observations is compelling when added to the split data, and goes beyond making conclusions based on how fresh she looked throughout, and are much credible than theories about how she wore her watched, or that her pacer ran part of the race.
The Final Push
When Ashley’s performance first hit my radar, I reached out to a number of my ultrarunning friends. Among those I reached out to was Camille Herron. Camille is The 24 Hour World Record Holder (Both Track and Trail). She has multiple ultra wins and records. Looking at Ashley’s splits, her finishing push stood out. After chatting for a bit, Camille put together these two tables showing the fastest times ever for these sections.
From Lone Pine to the finish is 13.7 miles with roughly 4600 feet in elevation.
From Portal Road to finish is 3.6 miles with roughly 1850 in elevation gain. This section was described to Camille by one elite runner as ‘practically impossible’ to run.
What do these tables show? They show that Ashley completed these sections faster than many of the top runners’ all time best performances.
She ran the 13+ miles from Lone Pine to the finish 37 minutes faster than Patryjca ran in 2019 when she set the course record. She ran the 3.9 mile section almost 12 minutes faster than Patryjca did when she set the previous record.
More incredibly, she ran the last 13 miles faster than nearly any male in history. Faster than Scott Jurek, Harvey Lewis, Mike Morton, Pete Kostelnik and more. Of the top overall finishers, only Jorge Pacheco and Oswaldo Lopez have run this section faster. For the final 4 miles, only Lopez has ever recorded a faster split than Ashley.
Note: there have been some faster splits recorded. Camille indicated to me that she pulled the splits from the fastest overall finishers. Pete Kostelnik ran a split faster than Ashley after taking a long break. Jen Vogel ran the last stretch in 50:12 during daytime hours in 2011 on her way to a 29:42 finish.
There’s other great ascents I could include, but we’re comparing the all time best performers who were running continuously fast and pushing the limits.
The runners on this chart are all time greats and have run Badwater many times and have vast experience with elevation and distances over 100 miles. Her previous 100 mile results would not indicate that this result were possible.
Admittedly, at this point I have been unable to present definitive evidence to say either Ashley cheated, or that Ashley’s result is legitimate. There are two possibilities. Ashley cheated, or she turned in an all time great performance that should be celebrated.
Either way, the truth needs to come out. The scrutiny is warranted based on the incredible performance, and Ashley’s past controversies. If it is proven that her run was legitimate, it would be a fantastic story of redemption.
I’ve seen many theories. One theory is that Ashley’s pacer was dressed to look like her, and ran sections of the course. I do not buy into this personally. First, it apparently is common for pacers to match outfits with their runners. Secondly, even if fresh, it would be unlikely her pacer could have run the splits that Ashley recorded.
The more likely scenario, if one were to cheat, is to ride portions of the course in the van. Courses are allowed crews with marked vans. Past cheating was found to have been done using this method.
The good news for Ashley, if she ran the race legitimately, is that she can share her GPS data. This could serve to squash most doubts. There is enough underlying data in a .GPX file to determine if the run was legitimate (Note – the 135 showing on her watch is now believed to be her Heart Rate).
I am not publishing this to stir up controversy. These questions are already at the forefront of everyone’s mind in the Ultrarunning community.
It is my hope that this article helps to determine with as much certainty as possible whether Ashley’s result was legitimate. If so, she deserves accolades untarnished by doubt. If the result is not legitimate, Patricja deserves to be recognized as the record holder, and Georgia Jo Manta deserves recognition as the 2022 Female Winner of Badwater.
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LOL, faster than Scott Jurek? There’s no way she did that on foot.
One my watch that 131 top number is heart Rate. It’s possible that this is her HR…although running into the finish that seems low.
I find these accusations absolutely disgusting! Show her the respect she deserves rather than showing such poor sportsmanship! Only sore losers take this approach and again, absolutely disgusting 🤢😡‼️
all she has to do is upload the run, prove them wrong!
Yeah, bullshit. Anyone who runs with any regularity is neurotic about their equipment. This could be settled in 5 minutes with a data file. She’ll never send it.
Wrong and so bad to accuse someone with no info just one person with a grudge.
Is there a better way to judge someone than based on their past behavior?
Envy and gossip. Two very ugly character traits.
“Envy and gossip.” Feminism 101. Sweet, sweet irony.
That comment aged well….
I mean, she’s got a history of shady behaviors and she “ran” faster than any of her other races would give credence to, showing she’s not only personally not capable of this, but physiologically not capable. I’m sure she will gladly give up the data to prove a WORLD RECORD effort, right? And that her privatizing her Strava account is just a fluke, right??
Yes, lets blindly celebrate every mind blowing performance while ignoring realistic questions about cheating.
And where were all the official at every stop? They were part of the conspiracy? Why believe anything this “investigator” with a grudge says. He is more honest than the people who put on the race and the webcams, and the other runners, and competitors teams along the way?
What’s his grudge about?
Where there’s smoke, there’s a fire.
Yeah-I never hear of a conspiracy theory online that was not true.
Why? Why would she be beyond scrutiny?
Because she has pink hair and mental illness is celebrated in the US.
Because there are race officials not a website with a grudge who will most likely not post comments that disagree.
Found the couch Karen
Asking someone who put a world class showing at one of the most difficult races in the world, without any indication that he/she was remotely close to do so, is not poor sportmanship.
As derek said, it is super easy and barely and inconvenient to show she did it: Show the GPS data. The fact that she has her strava private, probably not accepting ANYONE is telling.
If someone accused me of cheating and I have the number to back me up… I am sure as hell that I would make a statement by making my accuser look BAD. She will not do that.
Many keep their Strava private for safety reasons.
Each activity has its own permissions setting. You can keep your account private, but share publicly one race if you wish.
There are race officials, checkpoints with many people at them, webcams during part, competitors along the way. Why believe one person spreading stories than everyone else? Why do you say she will not do that when she clearly already did? Does your watch record for 24 hours? Which actually proves nothing anyways as a watch could be faked either than fooling the race workers.
LOL what even is this website? a place where a bunch of dudes accuse athletic women of cheating? GTFO
did you bother to read the article Ted?
Nah, fam. I’m an athletic woman who has known about this chick since her doping suspension a few years ago. Maybe take a look into her history?
If it walks like a duck… and all that.
Yes let’s blindly believe every mind blowing performance while ignoring the possibility of cheating. Great idea.
Excellent answer. The author seems to have a longtime grudge.
Ted, you’re an idiot. Camille Herron is in the article and is scrutinizing Paulson’s results.
Pretty sad that people earn money for making allegations with no real evidence. Almost as bad as people claiming the burden of proof is on her.
The burden of proof is definitely on her. She’s claiming to be the record holder. It’s up to her to prove it.
Who’s to say I’m not the world record holder for being the fastest in my sport. Is the burden of proof on you to prove I’m not or on me to prove to the world I am the record holder?
I think he qualified multiple times that he isn’t accusing her of cheating, but rather pointing our inconsistencies and some very unlikely splits. Easy to prove if she submits the GPS data.
Under normal circumstances you are right. The burden of proof is on the accuser. But in this case things are different. When you’re a doper and course cutter, and you ran better splits than some of the best runners in history without having similar prior results, then the burden of proof is definitely on you.
If it was me, I would have understood and welcomed any suspicion and would do everything in my power to be open and transparent.
A lot of cheaters would’ve gotten away with money or awards if people didn’t ask questions.
I ran Badwater in two hours.
You are bad and sad for making me prove it with a GPX file… 🙄
Awww someone’s jealous. Paulson was getting prize money from races following her doping. Please tell me more about your righteous projection on Derek making money.
The thought of her running the last bit that much faster than Scott Jurek….? Gimme a break.
I paced Ashley at the Bear 100 for 25+ miles. I have ran several sub 24 100 milers and have finished UTMB. She dropped me from mile 50-75 several times on the climbs and I hadn’t ran the previous 50 miles. She’s continued to submit negative doping tests. She has an unreal ability to perform in heat. I knew she would win this race and knew that people would be skeptical , but I have zero doubt she did what she did and probably laughed and smiled the whole way. The only critique I can offer is that she understates how much she trains. She would actually do better to acknowledge that for the last 7 years or so, I don’t think there has been very many days where she didn’t do some kind of cardio for at least 4 hours- whether biking, running, or shooting for iFit. People critique that because she’s a mom, but I’ve seen parents with worse habits or hobbies that take away just as much or more time.
Stop the simping dude. Being a mom doesn’t negate past history of cheating. Her microscope and scrutiny is well deserved. She likes the attention… which you should know.
Badwater is a road race. Yes it’s an ultra because it’s longer than 26.2 but it’s not a traditional elevated dirt and vert ultra. Ashley’s job as an iFit trainer requires her to run significant hours numerous days a week. It’s possible her fitness is great, she has an Olympic Trial marathon time was a 2:40. I haven’t heard of many ultra runners that have earned an OQT.
She’s lived and trained at elevation in Utah (St. George and Logan) for years. She’s also lived in Florida recently where she’s trained throughout the heat and high humidity down there, doing triathlons as well. Badwater is a rolling, low humidity course. If Ashley maintained higher paces earlier in the race and she’s fit- the vertical gain at a faster time might not be out of the question, even if she’s on pace with the men’s times.
She ran Pony Express completely “untrained” as a last minute entry decision because she needed a 100-mile pre-qualifying race. If her fitness was there, nutrition too, why couldn’t she have given a top record breaking performance? Has anyone bothered to calculate her times adjusted for the course? Just because a primarily road athlete put in an impressive time at an ultra event doesn’t make it impossible
Camille has, and she has been the most vocal regarding this.
I am glad to see this getting the attention it deserves. I have respected Badwater for decades and this cheater’s win tarnishes the race and the sport.
DEREK IS BACK, BABY!
go, derek go *swings hips*
🙋♀️ “She ran the 3.9 mile section almost 12 minutes faster than any female ever.”
She did it in :54
I did it in :50 In 2011
That was also I. The heat of the day due to the daytime start. She climbed at night.
You all need to fact check a little better. The climb is impressive but not so impressive that it screams impossible. Most of the guys times were also day starts so day portal climbs. Also I thought badwater drug tests winners now?
Thank you Jen. I edited the text and referenced your time. Camille provided the chart and I didn’t give it the proper context.
I just like to clear some stuff up for Camille in regards to the climb. When I ran badwater I ran it hard from start to finish, no breaks and with everything I had trying to get a win. To date I have one of the fastest climbs up Whitney simply because I didn’t slow down. I was far from ever having an Olympic qualifying standard engine. If you have one of those and the ability to not slow down, that overall time as well as that climb are very possible.
It’s suspect, but it is not impossible. I remember quite a few late game performances that were better in females when the race was done at a hotter time of day – Alison venty, Jenn Vogele to name a couple.
Idk if she cheated or not but using that final push data as a leg to stand on is pretty useless. I follow this race religiously. I remember in like 2011 or 2012 Jen Vogel (pro triathlete) ran that stretch in a helluva time it had to be faster than this chicks. But also she was well known for that kind of late game grit and came into badwater with heaps of experience. Hmm. I’d be most interested to see the full gps data and maybe a blood test.
One point (among the many already articulated by others) for you: Ashley is the second pro female triathlete I have ever heard of running Badwater. The first is Jen Vogel, who ran it in 2011. Jen would readily admit she was nowhere near the level as a triathlete that Ashley reached. Yet when she finished the race in just under 30 hours, her final split from Lone Pine to the finish was remarkably similar to Ashley’s this week . . . Ashley ran it in 2:47; Jen did it in 2:52. See http://dbase.adventurecorps.com/results.php?bw_eid=53&bib=&lastName=&firstName=&gender=&age=&wave=&country=&nationality=&bwr=Go&last=53
One more point to consider: Ashley is not the first ultra runner who had her “breakout” ultra performance at Badwater. In 2013, a one-eyed Australian 49-year-old with a then 100-mi PR in the neighborhood of 19 hours shocked everyone when he came in second place overall (in just under 25 hours). His performance was completely out of the blue, and nothing he had done prior to it gave any indication he was capable of such a result at Badwater.
Finally, as far as people claiming she has some obligation to share her GPS/Strava data, this isn’t her trying to validate some FKT or transcon record. It is an official race with its own official race rules, none of which include “recording your run with a GPS device and sharing your Strava data with the world.” There is no actual evidence that she broke any race rule or regulation in any way . . . just allegations.
Anyway, just a few points for your consideration.
She just released her Garmin data. Whatever you think of her, surely you must believe that Badwater watched her like a hawk. They don’t want their race tarnished.
And to the person who criticized her for having her Strava private I guess you don’t walk through life from the perspective of a woman where there’s always a possibility of creeper men doing creeper things. Last year’s Badwater champion Sally McRae has a podcast about running safety where she specifically talks about going private on Strava after a guy that had been harassing her at the gym suddenly showed up at a trail where she had been running a few times a week. Whether you want to admit it or not, women have to think about personal safety in very different ways than men.
Stop working overtime on the potential creeps defense for keeping Strava data private. She can share just one result while keeping everything else private. Every Strava user knows this.
Why are you trying to distract from the matter at hand?
If an athlete had a career completely free of controversy, then ran times that appear totally unrealistic, why is it controversial to verify them? She has the data right there on her wrist. To protect the integrity of sport, verifying ridiculously fast times, particularly the final splits, should be required. If not, what’s to stop other people from cheating in the future without being required to prove the legitimacy of their times?
Yep. She loves attention and deserves the microscope. If it’s legit, then awesome! But she is the image of skepticism.
She released her data.
She’s released her Strava data… I hope to hear an update on this website
Don’t count on it. It’s hard to solicit money by admitting your article was wrong.
What was wrong in the article? Did you even read it?
X2. This site is a very guilty pleasure but this is the thinnest article I can recall seeing Derek put up. For what it’s worth I don’t recall a previous article where I’ve ended up thinking Derek was wrong and the runs in question were most likely legit. This may be the first. If it is Derek should apologize and perhaps reflect on why this got posted at all. Maybe “witnesses” end up adding another layer to the story but as it stands I’m inclined to believe the run.
I suggest you re-read the article and find the accusation or where I concluded anything one way or another. I was reporting that some big names in ultrarunning questioned her performance and commented that this is either an all time great performance or there was cheating. I didn’t (and haven’t) concluded one way or another. The scrutiny is justified, and would be justified for anyone that put up such a result.
Have you ever posted a “people are suspicious” post without taking a view on the behavior before? I don’t recall an example. Half hoping there’s fire here because otherwise I think this post was really irresponsible. Sure, it’s facially neutral, but if you dont think it supercharged allegations she cheated you’re delusional.
The allegations were already supercharged. Camille’s post had hundreds of comments from many top runners. Chavet Hills posted earlier. I received dozens of messages as well. Canadian Running referenced the drug suspension and called the result ‘eyebrow raising’ without any details.
This article itook a while to write but it doesn’t seem like that at any time you stopped to consider if the information you received was correct. Please don’t blame Camille for some of the incorrect information because at the end of the day, you were the one typing on your keyboard. You knew that your headline would draw the attention you wanted and your group of loyal trolls would do their job and start attacking a woman who put in an amazing performance as well as her friends. Since this article is public for all to see, you are setting yourself up for a defamation lawsuit. I was happy when I thought you had quit this website for good per Letsrun. Some of your early articles addressed the cheating and got good results, but lately you seem to be fishing for something to write. If this is your source of income, you will be losing whatever you make and more with the lawsuits surely coming your way.
For MANY people, just the fact that you saw fit to write about the suspicions *especially intimating that you have insider knowledge* lends validity to the gossip. If you deny that, you are lying to yourself. I don’t know the truth in this case, but for you to publish without public sources, or a chance for the runner to answer your questions (unless you contacted her prior to publishing and just omitted that fact) is really shoddy work.
Exactly. It’s never fun to be accused of something without evidence, only “past history”. It’s possible to suspect a lot of people for a lot of things, but of course we know this Derek will claim he never made any intimations, he only presented the evidence for people to evaluate for themselves. BS this is horrible and libel if it hurts her career or business opportunities.
Your headline screamed “many people are skeptical” and however you want to walk that back now, it seems like from the comments here “many people” think your “research” was misleading, your article wasn’t fact checked, and you smeared someone who may or may not have a checkered past but certainly seems to have to earned the win at Badwater. Maybe if we give you more money you’ll do a more responsible job next time?
What is disappointing? He simply presented the very valid reasons for the skepticism and has not called her a cheater and simply said he is looking further into it.
She did run OMTrial race in 2:40:07 in Atlanta 2020. I have zero clue what she did or didn’t do in the race being discussed, but she’s obviously very capable. But I understand the skepticism as well with the overly fast splits.
Derek, she released her Garmin data on FB. Have you had a chance to analyze it? Curious if anything looks odd to you.
I can’t believe your still doing this to people after Frank Meza killed himself. Let the race officials take care of this! Absolutely pathetic, you and your fans are complete pieces of shit. Its a witch hunt with literally zero evidence.
What happened to Frank Meza was truly sad…but he certainly cheated.
Who killed Frank Meza before Frank Meza decided to cheat repeatedly? 🤔
Hi Derek. I’m general counsel for Davy’s history site and worked on the Agnew case with him. Nice work.
Observations. The burden should be on the accuser until a credible case is documented. Your sources and the data establish this. The burden then shifts to the runner.
The runner should then produce heart rate and vertical oscillation/cadence data to meet her burden. If she doesn’t have this, then that’s it. It’s tough but a just process. Elite professional athletes have the means to document their performances with, for example, a Garmin chest strap. If they don’t, they’re just a trucker with no dash cam. Not a very secure way to operate.
FWIW, as the Bear’s counsel I was the one who allowed her to run the Bear despite her past doping incident. That episode was closed and I deemed it unjust to continue to hold that over her.
If proved to be a true performance, Camille also needs to publicly apologize. She started this whole thing by putting the charts out on her FB with no context and letting people attack Ashley. Regardless of if Ashley cheated or not, what Derek and Camille have done is shocking and cruel. This should have been investigated privately in collaboration with the race director. This article and Camille’s post have caused Ashley and her friends to be subjected to continuous bulling and harassment. So much for celebrating women in sport.
Omg, a woman being skeptical of a woman? What misogyny!!!
Yea, shocking and cruel to point out splits. Oh wow somebody call the police. smh
I saw her Garmin data. Her results are legit. No weird HR or cadence flucuations. I think the math for calculating the sections by Derek might be wrong. Now that her data is out for all to see, just acknowledge it and apologize for the accusation. Maybe do more thorough research before you tarnish someone’s reputation.
That math was taken directly from her official splits. And which accusation should I apologize for specifically? I made no accusations. Her results were phenomenal. Some major names were publicly (and privately) questioning the results, I reported on that. And I will report on her GPS data, and any additional, specific on course observations if the accusers will go public.
Lol, her reputation was tarnished after doping and cheating. Then continuing to run local races that yielded prize money. Keep simpin though.
If you look at the 2 garmin files she supplied. Why does it say “Summary data:edited” for both? This information is on the right hand side of the page with the Garmin model, firmware etc. The only time it changes to “edited” is if you change any of the fields in this activity such as time, HR, elevation etc
I confirmed that if you change the privacy on the app it results in the “Summary data: edited” message.
I can’t attach screenshots, but one of her crew is now on the record (in the comments of her FB post) defending the result. Its Amber Holt Green. In part she says “I will go to my grave knowing you ran every inch of the Badwater 135 with more integrity heart and grit…” and later “I can attest to Ashley running this honestly and wholeheartedly.”
Let’s see the drug test results before after.
Look, no one from your crew dresses exactly like you. That is very suspicious. And it was raced at night so pink her and all could be masked.
After you bullied a guy into suicide I still followed your page. But now you’re making allegations without even having all of the data in. Data which seems to show a clean race.
Don’t pretend your hedge of “if it is legitimate we should celebrate!” was genuine. This post was designed to cast suspicion on someone who, turns out, was a damn good athelete.
Maybe time to retire from your hobby.
I didn’t make any allegations. There were multiple posts from big names questioning her result and calling a cheater – those posts have more engagement than my social media. I was reporting on the suspicions that were already blowing up.
You are twisting my intent. Ive messaged with people in Ashley’s camp, and even they felt the article was fair.
I’ve spent much of my time on my FB pages defending her data against some erroneous conclusions.
Well Badwater says you’re wrong, so again, maybe time to retire. At this point you’re just dirtying up the sport and providing fodder for the men with bruised egos who don’t like to see a woman who can run a strong race.
(I hope you are not so foolish that you think your article comes across as anything other than an accusation of cheating. When the story is “Ashley Paulson: Is she a cheater or not? Only time will tell” you’re just baiting the audience.
Who cheated repeatedly and who committed suicide again? Deflecting is easy for you, isn’t it?
I did not deflect. I directly levelled an accusation.
Calling legitimate results into question in a highly biased way designed to sow doubt does not benefit the sport. At this point, Marathon Investigation has stopped benefiting the sport.
Some projects should come to an end.
A prominent doctor cheated repeatedly and placed his fake fears onto his CV. Once called out, he became a coward and ended his own life on his own terms. Bullied into suicide is a lame attempt to be jealous of Derek’s work.
Now, an attention seeking female, with a doping conviction and a cheating record, runs a course record for 135 miles with very questionable splits.
And you still find a way to simp while ignoring the qualified female in the article also questioning the results. You sound really special.
“Badwater 135: Big Fish in a Small Pond, Beware!”
– Some History and Context about “Outlier” Performances at the World’s Toughest Foot Race
For the past 23 years, it has been my great pleasure to lead the team which hosts the Badwater 135 Ultramarathon. Since our very first race in 2000, Badwater 135 runners have been giving amazing – and sometimes astonishing – performances on the race course. Human potential is truly incredible and we love providing the venue and opportunity for women and men to redefine what is possible.
For the first 13 editions of the race, there was very little International participation. It was mostly Americans, Brits, and other English speakers. The field was normally 12 to 25 runners (with 42 in 1999, the last year under the original leadership of the race.)
When I took the event over in 2000, my vision was that Badwater 135 would intentionally welcome runners carrying flags from across the globe, as well as endurance athletes with all kinds of varying backgrounds. We encouraged and embraced not only all the ultra runners who wanted to participate, but also ultra triathletes, mountaineers, and ultra cyclists, as long as they met the qualifying criteria and were selected to race. My goal was and remains to make Badwater 135 as competitive, as interesting, as diverse, and as international as possible.
We instantly began to achieve that goal at our first race in 2000, when the top five finishers came from Russia, Slovenia, Japan, Russia, and Russia, in that order. The Badwater veterans learned they had been “big fish in a small pond” when the men’s and women’s records were broken, with the Russian men’s winner five hours ahead of the lead American and the Russian women’s winner over 11 hours ahead of the next woman. It was a wake-up call to the nearly entirely American race field that there was a much wider body of ultra athletes out there capable of excelling at this race. But they weren’t only foreigners; they were also newcomers to ultra running.
Just two years later, in 2002, a woman won the race overall: Pam Reed of Tucson, Arizona took first overall with an astonishing gap of over four hours and forty minutes ahead of the next runner, the first man (27:56:47 versus 32:38:57.) She was over nine hours ahead of the next woman.
In 2002, Pam had started in the first wave and ran away from the whole race field immediately. She came back in 2003, started in the third wave, and won again. This time Dean Karnazes finished 24 minutes behind her, but the next finisher – the 2nd woman – was over five hours back. (The following year, Reed took fourth while Karnazes won with a four-hour margin over Reed, but just eight minutes over 2nd place.)
In 2005, Scott Jurek won the race in his rookie debut in a time of 24:36:08. He was arguably the greatest male American ultra runner at the time, but what made his win startling was that it came just one weekend after his seventh – and final – Western States 100 win. That is some amazing recovery. (The following year he dedicated his season to training for Badwater 135, and did all the right things in terms of heat training, road training, and such; he won again, but in a slower time.)
In 2006, David Goggins entered for the first time. He is a very muscular, large man, and he had extremely limited running experience, basically just one 24-hour race plus the HURT 100. (In real life, he was a Navy SEAL and has phenomenal overall fitness and strength.) In his rookie debut, he placed fifth in 30:18:54, coming in behind four of the biggest names in ultra running at the time: Scott Jurek, Akos Konya, Charlie Engle, and Ferg Hawke. He was also three hours ahead of Dean Karnazes.
In 2007, Goggins finished in third place with a time of 25:49:40, behind new course record breaker Valmir Nunes and runner-up (again) Akos Konya, something nobody would have predicted given Goggins’ physique and his limited running background.
In 2007, Jamie Donaldson took over 41 hours during her rookie debut, but then she returned in 2008 to win in a time of 26:51:33, a shocking 17 hour improvement and a new women’s record. She won three years in a row and broke her own women’s record in 2010 with a 25:53:07. (She then retired from the sport.)
In 2012, 70-year-old Arthur Webb completed the race in 33:45:40, setting a still unbroken 70+ age group record. Webb had started competing in Badwater 135 at age 56; it was this 15th consecutive race in 2012 when he not only set his amazing 70+ record, but also set his fastest personal record. He placed 29th out of 96; the average age of the runners ahead of him was 43.7 and the oldest ahead of him was just 60.
In 2013, a “previously unknown” 49-year-old Australian named Grant Maughan entered the race and placed second, just 15 minutes behind the winner, in 24:53:57. (He would take second again the following year, and eventually finish seven times.)
In 2015, Pete Kostelnick entered for the second time. He had run an impressive 30:38:09 in his rookie debut in 2014, but just one year later he ran 23:27:10 – an astonishing improvement of over seven hours. A year later, in 2016, he broke Valmir Nunes’ nine-year-old men’s record with a time of 21:56:32. (Since then, Pete has finished seven hours slower, thirteen hours slower, and DNF’d twice. But during Pete’s slowest Badwater 135, he ran from Lone Pine to the Whitney Portal finish line faster than anyone before or since: 2:21 for the 13 miles 5000 feet of ascent.)
In 2019, both course records were broken by rookie entrants. Yoshihiko Ishikawa of Japan set a new men’s record of 21:33:01, finishing 2 hours and 40 minutes ahead of the 2nd place finisher – and new women’s record breaker – Patricyja Bereznowska of Poland. Bereznowska broke Jamie Donaldson’s 2010 women’s record by 23 minutes and was the first woman to finish on the podium (top three overall) since 2010 and the first woman to ever place second overall. Nearly five hours behind Ishikawa and two hours behind Bereznowska was the third finisher, and second man, American Harvey Lewis in 26:11:18.
In 2022, the women’s course record fell as Ashley Paulson, a professional triathlete with six ultramarathon wins, ran just under four minutes faster than Bereznowska two years prior, and also placed third overall.
Of course there have been MANY incredible performances besides those that I have mentioned here, but this gives a good idea of the “outlier” performances that take place somewhat often at Badwater 135 while the rest of the field puts in pretty consistent performances. (Scientists call this “punctuated equilibrium.”)
None of this should be a surprise, because the sport is still young, everyone is still learning, plus the overwhelming majority of the planet doesn’t participate in ultra running. (The pond is still relatively small, but when new big fish make it to Badwater, amazing things will often happen.)
The previous Badwater 135 race director told me that he didn’t let in non-English speakers, plus the race field was very small. But when I promoted the race world-wide, five foreigners came in and set the bar much higher at our first race. (Five years went by before Scott Jurek broke the men’s record and returned it to American hands. But two years later, as ultra running grew in Brazil – in large part because of our sister race, Brazil 135 – the Brazilian Valmir Nunes broke Jurek’s record by nearly two hours.)
The majority of these incredible performances are simply the result of remarkable talent coming to Death Valley to compete in the Badwater 135. Basically, the pond is becoming bigger and bigger as it becomes more and more international. As a result, those previously “big fish” have found they aren’t as big as they thought.
Races are generally won – and records sometimes broken – by runners with more talent, higher pain thresholds, better and more consistent training and preparation. (That, plus being born with excellent DNA.)
When I look over the amazing Badwater 135 performances cited above, it basically comes down to bigger fish joining the race, or existing fish becoming bigger over time. For example, Badwater 135 has featured breakout performances by:
– Athletes who are world-class ultra runners, such as 24-hour and 48-hour record holders, Spartathlon champions, and similar, as in the case in 2000 and 2019 (and some years in between) and with many of our top foreign runners who finish on the podium.
– Athletes who are just exceptional and they “discovered” their incredible talent – as we discovered them – because of Badwater 135, such as Pam Reed and Grant Maughan.
– Athletes with simply more will and the most mind-blowing training and commitment (Goggins, in particular.)
– Athletes who “become bigger fish” during their years of Badwater 135 competition by training harder and smarter each year, honing their craft, and executing exceptional race strategies. (Pete Kostelnick’s first three races, plus Jamie Donaldson and Arthur Webb.)
– And one last category of athlete who I will describe below.
Despite how “astonishing” the various Badwater 135 performances cited above are, I have never heard a single one of these exceptional athletes be accused of cheating. Likewise, I have never believed that any of these athletes cheated, nor was I ever presented with evidence – or even a suggestion – that they cheated in any way. On the contrary, the ultra running community has accepted ALL of these incredible athletes and their exceptional performances with open arms and has celebrated all of them.
I believe this is because people trust “their own” people (fellow ultra runners) and because people generally accept one another at face value and with good will. I would also hope that the ultra running community knows that we take our organization of this race extremely seriously and that we work very hard to provide a safe, fair, and well managed race.
And yet, here we are today with swift condemnation of an “outlier” performance by an “outlier” athlete, Ashley Paulson, our women’s champion, third place overall finisher, and new women’s course record holder.
She was a rookie this year, and was accepted into the race with an exceptional athletic resumé – but a resumé that is not the “standard, well-known ultra runner” resumé that the majority of the field has.
Yes, she had won the six ultramarathons that she has entered, including The Bear 100 in Utah. But she has also been a professional triathlete for eight years, placing in the top ten in multiple Ironman Triathlons, with a personal best of 9:18:48 at Ironman Cozumel in 2017. That represents a level of athletic talent that is far beyond what nearly any triathlete – or ultra runner – can imagine, let alone deliver.
And yes, her history does include a six-month doping infraction suspension that she served seven years ago – something that we discussed and considered internally. Given that her own professional triathletes organization welcomed her back into triathlon, we felt no obligation nor desire to discriminate against her and refuse her entry in the race. She deserved the chance to race, and to be judged exclusively on the merits of her performance on the Badwater 135 race course.
During the 2022 Badwater 135, we consistently saw Ashley Paulson running a fast, smooth, impressive, competitive race. As far as we know and observed, she and her support crew participated in an exemplary manner.
We have nearly 50 race staff who are out on and patrolling the course continuously. Every time we observed her, she was running fast, she was running with exceptional form, and she was smiling, happy, and engaging. She was clearly thriving as she competed against some of the best ultra runners on a brutal course. Living in both Florida and Utah, she didn’t seem to be impacted by the heat, either. She never wavered. From what we saw, she ran a perfect race.
And so I would add that there is one more type of athlete who may give an “outlier” performance at Badwater 135:
– World-class athletes from other endurance disciplines, who bring a level of fitness, strength, endurance, and highly effective training that exceeds the training typical for ultra runners who mainly – or exclusively – run lots of big miles. (In this case I am referring to Ashley Paulson, and having the highly respected Ryan Hall as her coach is also a huge asset to Ashley and further evidence of her exceptional training.)
Ashley Paulson is an “outlier” in not really being part of the ultra running community. She was not a known name. She doesn’t have the “credentials” that some ultra runners think are necessary to compete at the highest level, or to break records.
But for me, and for our organization, with decades of experience organizing – and participating in – ultra cycling, ultra triathlon, and ultra running, we found her victory not only totally believable, but unsurprising. To the best of our knowledge, she earned her win and her course record by arriving at the start line as a world-class endurance athlete, and by running faster, smarter, and more consistently than all the women and all but two of the men.
One of the principles of American society is the concept of “innocent until proven guilty.” That seems to be sadly lost on all those who rush to judgement and we see some keyboard warriors quick to attack Ashley and demand that she “prove her innocence.”
But innocence need not be proven; quite the contrary, compelling evidence to prove guilt must be presented. So far, we have seen no such evidence and have mainly seen character assassination, hearsay, conjecture, and bruised egos. We also note that her biggest detractors seem to be men who are perhaps threatened by a woman who can and does beat them, and by women who may be threatened by a talented outsider coming into “their sport.” (“Let’s keep that big fish out of “our” pond!”)
Of course, we will continue to look into – and act upon – any credible information that comes our way regarding Ashley, or regarding any other competitor in this year’s race. But without compelling, conclusive evidence of her guilt, we will continue to support and celebrate Ashley Paulson as the 2022 Badwater 135 women’s champion and new course record holder.
Yours in sport,
Chief Adventure Officer and Race Director
organizers of the world-wide series of Badwater® races
How much does it cost to enter your business? I mean, your race? With that money, start testing athletes. Especially those with a history of doping, even when it’s plead to “accidental.”
As much as you try to defend a convicted doper, you’ll get equal or greater push back.
Thank you- I couldn’t agree with your words more. There’s merit in allowing someone’s performance and consistent resume speak for themselves. Additionally, people should always have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
When Eluid Kipchoge broke 2 hours in the marathon, people complained because he “used rabbits” and “didn’t run on an official sanctioned course” completely missing the point of the amazing feat he had the fitness and talent to accomplish.
Thank you for making Badwater 135 exactly what it is, the wilds toughest foot race- by providing an event not everyone can complete and those who can, will always inspire.
And where they’ll collect $5,000+ race entry fees while likely never dope testing the runners. Even those caught in the past.
Speaking of Eliud… how many runners have been popped for doping from Kenya who have run slower than him?
I do find it ironic that Camille campaigns so hard for transparency. Then claiming women are oppressed and unequal in running. While simultaneously refusing to show her income under Nike to compare to mens runners’ contracts with Nike which would support her position. She’s quick to claim “non disclosure agreement” as a defense. Super weird how that works. 🙄
A prominent doctor cheated repeatedly and placed his fake feats onto his CV. Once called out, he became a coward and ended his own life on his own terms. Bullied into suicide is a lame attempt to be jealous of Derek’s work.
Now, an attention seeking female, with a doping conviction and a cheating record, runs a course record for 135 miles with very questionable splits.
And you still find a way to simp while ignoring the qualified female in the article also questioning the results. You sound really special.
How’s that review of the Garmin date and update going? It’s been almost two days. I can’t imagine how it takes longer than writing an article based on hearsay and unnamed compelling sources.
The race director’s statement has been out for over 14 hrs and you haven’t seen fit to update your article to acknowledge it? You are just killing your credibility here.
He’s following in the footsteps of dozens of inflammatory “journalists” and counting on more people remembering the lie than the runner’s data, statements by her crew, and the race director’s statement. He didn’t just smear the runner – he accused her entire crew of cheating and the director of running a dirty race. Of course he’s not going to back down. Clicks are profitable.
More irony is the RD implying that the past greats were clean. If any of you truly believe this, you’re wilfully ignorant and living in a bubble. There’s not enough money to test that often. A positive test will never be profitable for an RD or sponsors.
Cheaters aren’t always seeking gold medals in the Olympics or world records. They’re seeking just enough for sponsors and followers. Triathletes are some of the worst offenders of this, according to numerous age group winners popped for positive results. This is where Paulson got sloppy and plead to “accidentally” doping. People like her are much more calculated than you’d think. It’s unlikely to test someone who isn’t making the Olympics. But making the trials? Winning some smaller races? Winning a big race that isn’t even USATF sanctioned? Yeah, that is exactly what she’s looking for.
Testing when they least expect it will inevitably yield positive results.
It’s posted in the comments, and linked about 50 times on my FB page and group. If this was about clicks, I could have posted multiple articles. I’ve spent the past two days on the GPS data and have commented and mostly defended the data on my social media. I’m drafting a post regarding that data now as well.
What I do not want to do is post a dozen articles for every update. I am hoping to have everything covered in one more article including the detailed review of the GPS data and an on the record statements from other runners/crews. I will also acknowledge Chris’s statement.
I don’t like the RDs note, it is flip and rude to his own base. It does however, defend his pocket. This woman has reason to be doubted. I am not saying she cheated at Badwater, but she did cheat in the past in a multitude of ways. Then add edited data (we don’t know who was wearing those watches – and I am sorry I have an old beat up coros that could go the whole distance, she is a big athlete with an old watch??) Next add the creepy lookalike crew/ pacer and 2 other crew that also bear a bizarre resemblance with their whitened teeth. Then add that she is the only finisher who has no dirt & sweat on her shirt. Add these to her already suspect past and this equals a lot of doubt. And to me, enough to believe she is lying: no tracker, no chip mat, no drug test and a wildly incredible time; especially in the last 3 sections. Anyone with logic would be suspicious. I hope she didn’t cheat, but there are a lot of “little” things. Personally, the RD overstepped in my opinion. He is defensive because he has no desire to investigate and he is wealthy off this event – his defense is that of one who will not spend money on investigations, and you know he has already been threatened with lawsuits. He won’t offer up 1 penny to fight for integrity. Not out of his cash. Look at Candice Burt who publicly stated how much she pays per athlete for chips and live tracking. It is expensive and many RDs (especially in events that cost even half as much as BW) He is not willing to part with his cash and thus will not help create accountability. So he goes after ultra runners and calls them petty. Bad move! Thank you Derek and Camille for being strong enough to voice concerns.
Don’t forget that Candice is a big supporter of using (and almost OD’ing) on OTC drugs during runs/races. If this alone doesn’t raise red flags on what else they’re using… head in the sand.
Don’t doubt the Garmin battery thing. My BRAND NEW Garmin Fenix 7S would not be able to make it the whole way for this race. I upgraded from the 935 because this had better features, and potential for solar charging. However, I hate how big my old one was on my wrist so I got the smaller race, which equates to a smaller battery. If I were to do a race like this, I’d have to plan on a watch change or something. Her watch APPEARS to be the Garmin Fenix 7S that I have (no confirmation only going by look). The maximum battery life with all satellite systems is 26 hours (extended to 30 hours if you get full sun charging). If using the fancy multi-band GPS it is reduced to 15 hours. It is 100% realistic she’d run out of juice by 24 hours or would have been getting the low battery warning.
I was inclined to agree with your skepticism around the watch battery since my fenix 6X gives more than 30hrs with GPS, HR, and maps on. However I looked at the fenix 6S Pro Solar and Garmin shows it gives 28 hrs without switching it into Max Battery mode (which makes the GPS data unreliable, at least on trails). It’s somewhat reasonable that a 2 year old watch battery would last only 70% of that. This isn’t vindication of her entire race but just on that point.
I bet there is photo / video evidence of different girls racing in her stead and her riding in the van. Somebody needs to offer a cash reward for that evidence.
I’ve read this article several times, and after reading through the posts again, and more specifically Derek’s comments, I have a different perspective.
I do think Derek’s intent is to just tell the truth. I don’t know if that was his original intent, but that is how it reads now after some revisions. He has attempted to be thorough and objective in his research, and he simply reports facts.
Unfortunately I also read through Camille’s original Facebook thread (and within his article he references some conversations with her, so it was hard for me, the reader, to separate that post from this article). In that thread (on Camille’s page) I watched how she and others celebrated the skeptics with likes and comments, completely ignoring others that stated the post was not fair, one sided, and that an investigation needed be done in a more private matter.
I hate that this whole investigation started the way it did, but I think Derek’s article was intended to be a truth seeking.
Perhaps we will have more interest from elites for this race in 2023, in addition to increased publicity and athlete monitoring.
Thank you, Derek. I appreciate your analysis on this charged topic, and I look forward to reading your updated article. I was shocked when Robert Young cheated on his run across America. I was shocked when Kelly Agnew was caught cheating at Across the Years. Before looking at the results for Badwater, I had just read about the 2019 Boston marathon champ Lawrence Cherono being unable to compete at the World Championship that happened today due to an anti doing violation. The New York Times recently wrote about the continuing suspicion on Galen Rupp due to his long association with Alberto Salazar. I confess that I am now somewhat skeptical of all incredible running performances. I sincerely hope you do not get sued, or more importantly I hope that you do not get discouraged from doing your analysis due to threats of lawsuits, because the sad reality of the present moment is that many people are reasonably skeptical of all incredible performances including new course records. Analyzing heart rate and other variables is not easy and I am glad that Ashley Paulson was willing to share her data. Thank you for your work.
Just want to say I am a fan of this site, but I am starting to see more and more of these sensationalism type of articles that are making me think at this point if this site is really helping the sport or just feeding the theories of bitter people that cannot accept race results that already get scrutinized by the race. You were doing a good job straddling a fine line between seeking the truth and sensationalism that plays on people’s paranoia/jealousy/bruised egos. I think you have jumped the shark with this one. I think you are now crossing it and comfortably playing on thaat other side pandering to these letsrun.com forum type of trolls.
Badwater is a prestugious race. If you cheat there, I am 100% sure you won’t get away with it. Forget good runners like this lady. I am an amateur runner just doing this to stay in shape, and even in our slow ass run club it amazes me that there are people that that will just make up stuff up and spread rumors when they cannot accept someone’s result for reasons known only to themselves. More than once I have heard people casually say “oh, he/she must have taken something”, “how can he improve in just x amount of time” etc… with absolutely no evidence. Whether it is your intention or not, I think your articles are increasingly sounding like paranoid people. I just saw badwater’s post race write up. There is nothing questionable whatsoever about her. Can we at least wait? AT this point this article is just gossip. If you keep publishing stuff like this with no evidence, your credibility will suffer.
I don’t know the details of this woman’s running history, but a brief reading says she was banned for course cutting at a half marathon. Intentional cheating or not, she was penalized for it. Now you and countless of people like the commenters here may feel she is a horrible person for doing that and somehow think it means she cheated at badwater, but your feelings means absulutely nothing without evidence. Hwe not sharing her strava data is also not “evidence”. Feelings are not facts. How does her half marathon ordeal somehow translate into automatically assuming she cheated at badwater and publishing articles like this right after the race?
Again Badwater is an insane race. It is also a big race. If she cheated, I am sure it will come out sooner or later. I am all for scrutinizing results, but I think we need to be 100% sure we are armed with evidence that proves someone cheated before we publish stiff like this. I am starting to see more and more of these “we feel person x cheated because [insert insinuation presented as evidence], but if they didn’t, well oops my bad” type of articles.
It’s a tough topic, but I certainly don’t feel I sensationalized anything.
Also, Parvaneh Moayedi clearly cheated at this race, and was never DQd. She is the woman that created a race series for the primary purpose of faking results to increase her and her friends’ marathon counts.
Ouch. Any statement from the RD has zero credibility then.
I looked at the data. One thing sticks out: for the 115 mile data, running 10 min pace, 17.5 min walking/20 hrs, stride length is 0.89 meters. For the 20 mile segment, running 13 min pace, 4 min walking/4 hours, stride length is 1.23 meters. At the end of a long race, steep climbing for the last segment, going at slower pace, it doesn’t make sense to me that stride length would increase at all, much less that it would increase by over 33%. Garmin indicates that idle time is not factored in, and the percentage of walking in both segments is roughly the same. The stride length discrepancy seems like a red flag to me, but perhaps there is a reasonable explanation.
I addressed this on social media and will in the update. Look at the individual splits. Her last split of the 2nd file was after she stopped running, but before she turned off her watch. It has a 28 m stride length. Throw that out and the averages align.
Derek, it does seem like you are trying to be fair in the way you are evaluating Ashley’s Badwater performance. But, so much of this discussion is built on the foundation of the “previous bad behavior”, which few people seem to be willing to evaluate critically… it’s just accepted as fact. You reference the doping allegations as if there is some ambiguity there, but Ashley appealed the suspension and when they tested the supplements she provided, they found the contaminated supplement. Clearly it was deemed accidental, and there was no intent by Ashley to dope. NIH later did a study about contamination of supplements and how it was occurring, and they even referenced Ashley’s situation. This study further bolsters Ashley’s claim that it was accidental. The doping “scandal” should not be used as evidence that she is a “cheater”. If anything it should only be mentioned in the context of pointing out that it’s a total non-issue (link to NIH study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7466328/). That basically leaves the half marathon “course cutting” rumors as the primary semi-credible basis for all of this “once a cheater always a cheater” talk that makes people feel ok about acting as if she should receive zero benefit of the doubt. Ashley has competed in hundreds of events. It’s a lot easier to believe that getting off course was accidental than on purpose (but she’s a known “doper” so of course she is capable of anything… false, and all of the rumors about past scandals hardly stand up to any scrutiny without the doping allegation as the hook to hang everything else on). The attacks on Ashley go way beyond any legit concern about the “integrity of the sport”. Also, while people feel so comfortable attacking Ashley mercilessly (totally justified in their mind since she’s a “known cheater”), they are also accusing everyone on Ashley’s crew of being cheaters. But that’s ok too, because if they associate with Ashley they deserve what they get, right?
I look forward to seeing your analysis of the GPX data.
Testing a supplement provided by the athlete in question does what, exactly? She could have added the ostarine to her supplement. Did they pull retention samples directly from the manufacturer from the same lot? USADA clearly states that taking a supplement that unknowingly contains a prohibited substance is no excuse. It’s spelled out on their site the risks you take with any supplement. They offer ways to avoid the risk as well as tell you to look for the NSF certification. Bottom line is if you choose to supplement, particularly with high risk supplements, you are expected to know you may be taking a banned substance. It’s not an acceptable excuse for accidental doping. “Athletes are responsible for anything that goes into their body.” https://www.usada.org/athletes/substances/supplement-connect/ https://www.usada.org/spirit-of-sport/how-to-reduce-your-risk-from-supplements/
How often are suspensions overturned? She must have made a convincing case.
Thus is exactly my perspective. Agree 100%.
It’s ironic to see so many people fighting on behalf of fairness and integrity while displaying neither of those qualities themselves.
This article is disgusting and nothing more than click bait at the expense of an innocent runner. You used to be a respectable source, but now that you don’t have as many articles to post, you’re scrapping the bottle of the barrel in order to get donations and don’t care that you are tarnishing someone’s reputation in the process.
This article is disgusting and nothing more than click bait at the expense of an innocent runner. You used to be a respectable source, but now that you don’t have as many articles to post, you’re scrapping the bottle of the barrel in order to get donations and don’t care that you are tarnishing someone’s reputation in the process.
Your revisions are a slim mia culpa. People are not going to reread your article to see what you have changed. The damage is done. You need to write a completely new article stating the facts, including that she published her Garmin data and there is nothing to indicate she cheated.
Literally at the top of the article in Bold, red print.
Note: Ashley has supplied GPS data from the Garmin Connect app. I am reviewing this and will post an updated article with my conclusions.
It’s too late. People already read the false information that she was suspended for “doping” rather than the truth that it was a contaminated supplement. Many others also had a similar suspension from the very common osterine contamination in their supplement. Unfortunately, people have been spreading rumors of her being a doper for days.
The rumor that no one has run the last part of the course as fast as her was also false and that false rumor keeps spreading. There were recently people on Letsrun trying to organize a stalking campaign for her next race. It has gotten out of hand.
Suggestion: Keep the summary at the top simple for the potentially dangerous stalkers: “1) No past doping; 2) No evidence of cheating in GPS data; 3) RD says no cheating; 4) Not the fastest female finish; 5) Witness filming on course saw no evidence of cheating; 6) Don’t encourage deranged, lunatic stalkers.”
No, at the top of the article is the title. “… Many are skeptical.”
You took something which could have been handled by the race director and a few elite athletes expressing concerns.
And instead now have hundreds to thousands of people with no qualifications offering opinions.
The story lacks substance, lacks any credible evidence of cheating, cites very few sources with nothing more than suspicion, and attempts to make a contaminated supplement from 7 years ago (like many supplements one might just pick up at GNC) into some sort of huge character flaw.
It has gotten away from you and claiming “Actually I never technically accused her…” doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility of your minions throwing accusations around on facebook, instagram, twitter, reddit, and blogs.
This site is truly one of the saddest, darkest, most painful corners of the internet. Self-knowledge does not grow in this place.
GPS data will show as normal even if multiple people ran wearing the same watch in turns.
I was rereading your 2016 article on Paraveneh Moayedi, and I highly recommend it to anyone that believes the race director of Badwater can be trusted to investigate reports of cheating at Badwater. Understanding your prior interaction with that Business Owner/Race Director or at least his failure to respond to your reporting, it makes a lot more sense to me that you would publish an initial article (without detailing eyewitness accounts) before all the details are in order to try and encourage the race director to take action and other runners and crew members who might have seen something to speak up. Who knows how many other runners have reported seeing cheating at Badwater only to have their reports ignored? Maybe no one, but a quick search online indicated that in addition to 2014 and this year, there may have been other allegations of cheating at the race (2007). I read through the race directors statement and it was surprising and disappointing that he didn’t address prior reports of cheating at Badwater and what actions he has taken since then to improve the credibility of the race and ensure that other people don’t cheat. I sincerely hope that Ashley Paulson fairly completed the race. Again, I don’t know whether there was any cheating at Badwater this year, but I look forward to hearing what more people that were there saw and reported to you.
Specifically, since the 2014 Badwater race I am unclear whether any actions have been taken by the race director despite the fact that” “multiple runners and crew members , reported wrongdoing. One runner actually witnessed her get in the crew van and drive ahead. See below from a statement from another runner taken from letsrun.com,]”
I just checked and Moayedi is still listed as an official finisher for 2014.
I’ve tried to search both Garmin Connect and Google as well as other forums, can’t find these mysterious GPS files. Would love to go to as much of primary source as possible rather than just the speculation/gossip mill of comments sections around the world…
Anyone have a link?
So, the RD’s statement has been out for over 3 days and still no promised “update” by Derek. Why is it taking you longer to follow up research the statement than it did for you to post the initial, inflammatory and accusatory article?
She’s an amazing athlete. The doping and cutting the course stuff sounds like an actual accident. Y’all suck she crushed it. What athlete at her level get in a van?? So stupid.
No update yet? Data has been out for a few days. Waiting this long makes it seem like you hope this will all blow over…
Yeah, I keep checking back also. Seemed like there was a big rush on the initial story but no urgency on the follow up. He has hinted that there is nothing suspicious about the GPX data, but I’m going to be looking for a strongly worded validation of the data… not a “I couldn’t find anything suspect in the data, so I guess maybe she could have possibly done this”. Absent proof of cheating, it’s only fair to give Ashley credit for the amazing accomplishment and perhaps even acknowledge that helping stir up controversy wasn’t warranted.
Where is the analysis of the data? How come it has taken so long? Can you give us an update please Derek.
I do not want to drag this out with multiple articles or updates. There are two elements at play.
1. Her data – I posted high level analysis on social media based on some inaccurate conclusions around the ‘edited’ data and average cadence.
2. Reports from runners/staff/crew. I’ve spoke or emailed with a lot of people that were at the race. This results in needing to follow up and confirm or refute statements. If I just took all statements at face value with evaluating the reliability or trying to find an explanation in the data or from talking the runners I would be doing everyone a disservice.
I am striving to address all reasonable questions around her data and to allow people to share their experiences if those experiences are credible and if they are willing to stand by their statements publicly.
I would love a clean and clear conclusion to this, but I suspect that there will still be debate.
What are your thoughts on the discrepancy between the distance displaying on her watch in the finish photo (131 miles) and the gps data?
Two potential issues there from my limited perspective:
1) If this was recorded in two separate activities, shouldn’t her watch display the 18+ miles from her second gps file?
2) 115.08+18.56=133.64 Add the ~1.5 miles section while watch was charging = ~135 miles. Unclear to me how you get to 131 from that.
That is likely her heartrate.
After however many days of “investigation” there is no actual evidence of any cheating whatsoever. Although there is plenty of evidence from an independent documentary crew that Ashley was running (not walking) the last part of the race, consistent with her splits. Also a statement from the race also refuting you and supporting Ashley.
One tainted supplement store product.
One wrong turn at a half marathon where she didn’t take the podium and acknowledged the mistake within 24 hrs (and who would publish their gps data for that race if they were trying to cut it?)
Hundreds of elite performances since. Numerous drug tests, all clean, because she is a top-tier athlete.
Derek, time for you to bow out of the limelight. You are not helping anyone, just stirring up controversy and (don’t pretend you aren’t aware) getting dozens or hundreds of people to accuse someone of cheating without any evidence.
People making accusations that the athlete is a serial course cutter, a doper, and a cheater (“No way is she faster than Scott Jurek!” ignoring that this was a different race run on a different day under different circumstances and with the benefit of many years of publicized race reports).
“no way she’s a record-breaker” at a race with only a few hundred female finishers ever, less than the size of a single wave at Boston.
You’re making the sport of running worse. It isn’t about you. Enough of your attention-seeking, find another real job to do because investigation (especially when you anticipate not presenting a “clean and clear conclusion”) is really not your thing anymore.
Those that complain that I rushed with the initial article, are the same ones that want me to rush to vindicate her. The initial article only acknowledged what was already being questioned by the Ultra community. I didn’t make up the controversy. If you’d read the article objectively, I even downplayed and gave my opinion that the allegation of biking the course was not true. I objectively mentioned her suspension and added commentary that it was likely to be deemed accidental given the length of the suspension.
I think when you see the # of people coming forward, and the amount statements I need to investigate you will understand while it is taking some time. The article will address all the eyewitness accounts in detail. That takes time.
Also relative to her Snow Canyon Half Marathon, I spoke to a runner that finished right behind her. He stated that she was disqualified because he screenshotted her Strava at the race. Like most people with public Strava it uploads automatically after saving a run. She went private immediately after that.
And a person intending to cheat wouldn’t be automatically uploading their runs with satellite data of their cheating with settings on public.
You stirred up the controversy, escalated it from fewer than a dozen questioning people to hundreds including many who just want to be online detectives and have no idea what an extreme temp ultra by a triathlete would look like.
And then every single time someone points out your culpability you repeat the same tired “you should read my article more closely.”
It’s as if you are unable to comprehend that people are using your words and article, exaggerating your already biased words, and going too far.
Saying you technically only ever told the truth doesn’t absolve you from the fact that words have repercussions, and can affect the lives of people who are innocent. Or in the past, humiliate someone at a national level who maybe didn’t need quite that much shaming to still be adequately embarrassed and exit the sport without exiting the lives of everyone who cared about him.
Because of your poorly thought out words.
The truth is far from clear yet. Why are you so invested in this? What’s your personal bias?
My motivations are not on trial (but are simply that a self-appointed investigator is stirring up controversy citing anonymous sources and “people are saying” in a way that is directly harmful to an athlete.) It hurts the sport and an athlete without contributing anything positive.
I assume since you have no defense to the arguments I made and your only reply is to come at me directly (and troll other comments) that you couldn’t find any fault with the arguments made about how Derek is causing harm, and not for the first time either. You’re dismissed.
“After however many days of “investigation” there is no actual evidence of any cheating whatsoever.” How do you know this Steve? You have any evidence yourself?
With Ashley’s history of cheating – and her winning this year’s race and setting the course record for women – it’s a shame that this is left to Derek to investigate rather than the RD. This is the integrity of Badwater also, not just Ashley’s.
I’m supportive of Derek’s investigation and look forward to seeing the results of it.
So you’re saying that we are “rushing” you by asking you to post a conclusion 5 days after she posted her gps data, and that it’s wrong to rush you. But it wasn’t wrong for you to post the original article with your inflammatory “many are skeptical” headline ONE DAY after the race? Why weren’t you worried about rushing when you posted the original article?
The conclusion we are left with is that you had absolutely no concerns about posting the original article in a “rush,” with faulty, since discredited data…but now that your data has been discredited, race observers not affiliated with the runner have gone public refuting your accusations, the director and the runner’s crew have done the same…now all of a sudden you want to slow down and take your time and be cautious. Where was that caution before you posted your accusations? And at the bare minimum, since you’re now saying that rushing a post without having all the information is wrong, can you admit your original post was in haste and showed poor judgment?
All performances are subject to review/scrutiny, especially when you plaster the results on social media or try to leverage other benefits from the performance.
As a fan of this site, I must say that when I see a post, I presume that I am looking at a cheater. No matter what caveats or disclaimers Derek uses, I initially surrender my discernment to the power of MI’s brand.
I had that feeling about Ashley, but looking into it more it feels like this post was too early. In essence, journalistic course cutting.
Still open to any outcome, but leaning far more strongly toward believing her performance. I understand the rationale for the post, but I don’t think the power of the MI brand can be flicked on/off, or adjusted for pending investigations. If it makes it to this page, the investigation should be complete.
This instance does nothing to tarnish the stellar work you’ve done on other cases, and I hope the folks who think this work is unnecessary or problematic are not youth sports coaches.
Congratulations, Ashley! And get ‘em on the next lap, Derek!
Astute and reasonable.
If you ran the full distance and want to clear things up, isn’t Derek the best person to help do that? I realize some of her past issues concern people but she seems to have owned up and moved on. The supplement defense is a lot better than some defenses we’ve seen in the news lately! Turned wrong at a race? It happens and she backed it down within 24 hours. My best guess? The GPS will show that it is very likely she ran the whole thing and the result is legitimate. However, some people will find a way to nibble around the edges and cast doubt. I hope she hits a few more big wins to quiet the doubters.
Sooner or later, this was going to happen. The probability of a runner cheating in this type of race is considerable. Is not like a crew waits for a runner at a certain point or location like other races. Also, she has been found guilty of cheating before. Whether she cheated or not, in this case, it seems like the RD’s failed to prepare accordingly knowing that they have accepted a runner that has cheated before and the only thing they did is hide under a long post on facebook afterwards. Lack of preparation from the RD’s made this scenario happen.
The last two comments have been “she should actually thank Derek for helping prove she WASN’T a cheater” and “this whole thing is the RD’s fault.” Seems like someone wants to spin Derek as not being the bad guy here.
Meanwhile, no matter how this is walked back, anyone who searches Paulson’s name will find reference to this “many are skeptical” article. Hasty accusations are permanent, it seems.
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