Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Mysterious Marathons of Kip Litton

Kip at the 2009 Manchester Marathon
I have been following with fascination the letsrun thread on Michigan dentist Kip Litton for thousands of messages it seems. This week there is a resolution and satisfaction with the publication of an article in the New Yorker magazine by Mark Singer, although the answer is never clear as to why Kip Litton did what he did. Basically Kip Litton is a cheat. Marathons have seen many cheaters through the years, most famously Rose Ruiz in the Boston Marathon  Kip Litton is a little different. He traveled around the country in a quest to run a sub 3 hour marathon in every state, except it seems he did not really run the full marathon most times. He even made up whole marathons, marathon websites, and fellow competitors to add to his list of completed marathons. The way Kip Litton "ran" the marathons was even more fascinating. He would start minutes behind the rest of the field, with his number covered be a shirt or sweatshirt, a cap pulled down over his ground-facing face so that he might not be recognized. Then he would appear at the end of the race, often after a change of clothes and shoes without registering at checkpoints and without his picture being taken by race photographers. His chip time from a later start would often place him in front of age group racers who never saw him on the course. The runners at letsrun outed Kip in a lengthy detective game of looking for him in race photos. The question remains, "Why would he do this?" Some answers are found in Mark Singer's article. You can find the article in this week's edition of the New Yorker magazine (on newstands-not online). My favorite part of the article is when Singer interviews an unrepentant Kip at a Wendy's after this years Boston Marathon no-show. Kip is ironically sittingunderneath a poster of Dave Thomas stating, "When it comes to VALUES, I've never been one to cut corners." Then later Lady Gaga is singing, "Pokerface," as Kip gives away no secrets. Superb! 

Kip at the finish. The one place you can usually find him.
Here is where you can find more information about Kip Litton and his cheating ways:
Pat Price over at Writing about Running gives a good summary of the New Yorker article.
An earlier Writing about Running article from 2011 The Outing of Kip Litton
The infamous Rojo says he might start a Kip Litton thread but only 1 and only 1 thread on Letsrun
The Study of Kip Litton blog which has photos and videos of Kip's misdeeds 

Kip? or just someone in a Kip pose?
I did run one race in which Kip presumably cheated in 2009. That would be the Manchester Marathon in NH. Kip finished 15th overall in 2:54:06 just 18 seconds and one place ahead (both overall and age group) in front of my friend and teammate Michael Wright. Mike never saw Kip on the course as Kip started further back in the pack. I have told Mike about Kip, but he is unconcerned even though it cost him a place in his age-group. Kip did negative split the race, which is hard to do on this hilly marathon, but possible. I also ran a negative split, running the first half in 1:46:30 and the second half in 1:42:52, however it was my second marathon in a week and I was suffering from imbalances caused by what I now know was caused by a labral tear in my hip. I was also trying out new inserts in my shoe the morning of the race. In looking at the Brightroom photos of the race, there are 16 pictures of me running, and only 2 of Kip. There is one other photo of him identified, but the runner is in completely different clothes and even a different colorered number, but the runner has the classic Kip heads down pose-either someone is having fun with the photo or maybe that is Kip and he his chip on registering the photo. Mike Wright has 18 photos online. There was a photographer on a bridge taking pictures of the marathoners. It would have been hard to avoid the photographer if you were truly running the whole marathon.

Update: I checked out the picture above further and it is runner 1345 who happened to be a female runner who completed the half-marathon. It is not Kip, so Kip had only 2 photos taken during the race. I assume one is the finish and one is at the half-marathon. He then successfully "avoided" the race photographers for the rest of the race. What I find humorous is that someone found the picture of #1345 in full head-down Kip pose and placed the photo under Kip's name on the Brightroom website. Someone has a sense of humor!

Kip "head-down" pose

1345 in a Kip-like pose
but not Kip according to the results!

But still I question how can #1345 a woman finisher in
the 1/2 marathon in 2:26 be wearing the same glasses
as Kip in this race?
I guess she is just Kip's female doppelganger. They run in the same way with the same

Update 2
Peter Larson over at Runblogger confirms that he has no video of Kip Litton at the 6 or 20 mile mark of the 2009 Manchester Marathon. Peter Larson had students taking video of the race participants for a foot-strike study. http://www.runblogger.com/2012/09/my-unexpected-connection-to-kip-litton.html He was able to get video of 95% of the participants in the top 300. 


Anonymous said...

I looked at that half marathon runner's photos from the next year, it definitely is not Kip. The resemblance in mannerisms in the 2009 race was definitely striking.


Jim Hansen said...

Thanks...it looks like Kip does have a female doppleganger.

Unknown said...


I think with the female picture, they actually misidentified the guy with the white shirt as being #195, which was Kip's bib. The way it was bent makes the middle number look like a 9. but, there is an uncanny resemblance between the woman and Kip.

Looks like one of the photos was on Hanover St., the other coming down Elm to the finish. I'm betting both were to the finish and there was no half marathon photo since he was four minutes behind the woman at the half and I can't imagine it would take four minute to get from back of pack to starting mat in Manchester.

Great post!



Jim Hansen said...

To the person that left the two anonymous emails this afternoon, what you wrote cracked me up, but I want to be careful not to post something about what is surely an innocent person. I also noticed that the person mentioned works in my city (I don't know this person). You are right. It is weirdness, but at this point that is all it is, if not, it would be beyond crazy! Sorry for being cryptic, but I wanted to reply.

Bill and Steph said...

I've assembled a webpage detailing all the stories about Dr. Litton that I can locate, at

Jim Hansen said...

I have seen your page. Nice job on putting all the information together and keeping it updated!