Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jedward: Did They Run LA Marathon....or Were They Teleported?!

By now, some of you may have heard about Jedward, the Irish twin pop duo, and their alleged athletic feat (cue soft-focus lens and ethereal visual effects):

Having arrived in LA after a transatlantic flight on Saturday, March 17, they spotted a flyer in their hotel room about some marathon taking place the next day in LA, and decided to just go for it on a box of Raisin Bran for carbo loading. Why not, since they happened to have matching Spandex outfits, and just sooooo happened to have brought their running shoes.



And they completed it! OMG! Look at them with their hard-earned medals!



Their tweets "along the way" lit up hearts and minds of Jedward fans everywhere (mostly limited to intellectually and culturally unincorporated parts of UK, let's be honest).

BBC News even did an article spearheaded by the story: "Can You Run a Marathon without Training?" that took the rumor of their completion of the 2012 L.A. Marathon at face value.

When I saw the story, I recalled seeing one of these twins finish alongside me on Ocean Avenue at the end of the marathon. I ran a time of 3:57:17, and there was a gun/chip time differential of about seven minutes for me, as I started near the front of the general bunch, and by the time my section walked forward to cross the finish line, about seven minutes had elapsed since the elite frontrunners had taken off at the gun.

As I read more and more stories about the marathon and the exploits of Jedward, two things:

1. They did not register for the race.

2. Their sightings do not indicate a completed run from start to finish.

First, the issue about not registering and running (a.k.a. "banditing") the race. This is simply a theft of the organizational effort supported by all registered runners who paid a hefty sum to have the street closures, the police and ambulance support, and the hydration and energy stations.

The excuse that "sure, people do it all the time" is simply not good enough. Sure, people shoplift and eat and run without paying all the time. Newsflash Jed-heads: it's still not OK. Only attention hogs like Jedward would be tweeting about shoplifting, dine-n-dash, and banditing a marathon, and have adoring fans bending over thrice and making excuses such as "a marathon is not really a race for most people, it's a fun run." 

Second, the issue whether they ran the course from start to finish at all.

Without registration, Jedward received no runner's numbers, and no timing chips. That means they do not have official times at the 10K, 20K, 30K, 40K, and finish lines. Therefore, there is no record of their running the race route from start to finish.

Jedward fans will claim, "sure they don't have official splits and finish times: they couldn't register so they aren't on the roster!" And, some of the comments by Jedward fans indicate they will take the existence of a few photos and a video by KTLA of Jedward running in their garish Spandex suits and dangerously spiked coif on the course as definitive proof they ran the entire course.

The lack of registration number and thus lack of official split times may seem a dead-end thwarting of any effort to verify their presence on the course. However, with little effort, one can uncover much evidence to time-stamp their appearances along the course.

The presence of registered runners all around Jedward in the photos, the availability of the registered runners' official time splits, and other information gathered from the photographers and the EXIF data in their photos as well as videos posted by Jedward themselves can be used to piece together their whereabouts along the course.


Result: they are either superhuman and will own human land speed records for the next two centuries, or they CHEATED and had a driver shuttle them around the LA Marathon course for their "appearances."

JEDWARD SIGHTING LOCATION ONE: MILE 13

The first concrete piece of information in my LA Marathon runners post-race Facebook communication that led me to suspect foul play by Jedward was this:


I checked out Jon Chernila's official times on the LA Marathon Website and his times are as follows:


Great times, and specifically at "around Mile 13 or 14," when Jon passed Jedward, the actual time of day would have been 9:20 A.M., or @ 1 hours 50 minutes past the start time of 7:29 A.M. 

This made very little sense, as Jedward said they got into the general start group from the back. My start from front of that pack was already seven minutes behind starting gun time. The back of the pack would have been close to ten minutes behind gun time, perhaps longer. This meant they ran 13 miles in 1 hours 40 minutes or less. Not impossible, but very suspiciously fast.

Next, I looked at the photos found in a very broad search of "Jedward marathon" and found only less than ten actual photos that are reposted, cropped, shrunken into various versions. In some of these, non-bandit runners (who actually paid for their participation) could be identified by their numbers. The runners' official splits and the locations of the photos can be irrefutable evidence of where Jedward were along the course and at what specific time.

First photo that I was able to make the time/location connection was this:


The runner between Jedward in this photo, #12972, is Mr. Santos Figueroa. Here are his times:


This photo, at a former Blockbuster currently under offer for lease by Cushman Wakefield, is on 7833 W. Sunset Blvd., just past Mile 13 (Sunset and Fairfax). 


This places Jedward at midpoint of the marathon in this photo. Since Mr. Figueroa ran the first 10K and 20K at about a 9-min/mile pace, this photo places Jedward again at 9:15 to 9:20 AM at the Mile 13 area, about 1:45 to 1:50 after gun time, and corroborates Jon Chernila's report above that he ran by Jedward about this time at Mile 13 or 14. Now we not only have Jon Chernila's report, we also have proof in photo of their whereabouts.

JEDWARD SIGHTING LOCATION TWO: MILE 22

Next, let's look at this photo, taken by bloodyeyeballs, available on Flickr. This is now almost Mile 22, in Brentwood. (I recall the scenery fondly as this meant the hill is still going up but the finish line was near!)


I wrote an email asking photographer "bloodyeyeballs," whose LA Marathon galleries have been excellent over the years and which I have heavily studied to prepare for my LA Marathon experience, if he could pull up the info on that photo and let me know at what time it was taken. Here is his reply:


So this now places Jedward (or one of the twins, the one seen in this picture) at Mile 22, at 9:46 A.M.

From Mile 13 at 9:20 A.M. to Mile 22 at 9:46 A.M., Jedward (or one of them) would have had to run at a pace of 2 minutes, 53 seconds per mile, or a speed of 20.8 mph for 26 minutes.

JEDWARD SIGHTING LOCATION THREE: MILE 10

The final evidence of their physically improbable journey along the LA Marathon course comes courtesy KTLA, the local television station doing live broadcast of the event. This final nail in the JEpic marathon myth coffin was posted by none other than MrJepicFan, the official ID of Jedward PR machine on YouTube.



Notice that when these two twins were approached, they were running together, and the backdrop places them at Hollywood Adventist Church, located at the intersection of Hollywood Blvd. and the 101 Freeway.


As for the time of this Jedward sighting, the same KTLA video continues with a simultaneous showing of the locations of the elite runners, and the map shows the men's leader, Simon Njoroge, right at Mile 19. This allows us to time-stamp the video, since the elite runners' times were reported in official news bulletins by LA Marathon.

(from the KTLA video)

from official LA Marathon press releases of the progress of the elite men racers.

At 1:33:45 into the race, the Jedward sighting on video was at @ 9:05 A.M., and they were seen just past Mile 10, at Hollywood and 101.

SUMMARY

Let's put this incredible Jedward journey together, and here are their splits from Mile 10 to 22:

Mile 10 at 9:05 A.M., as seen on live TV broadcast
Mile 13 at 9:20 A.M., as seen in photo and Facebook runner report with verifiable time splits
Mile 22 at 9:46 A.M., as seen in photo

For a time of 41 minutes, an average pace of 3:50/mile, and a speed of 17.6 mph, over the 12 miles.

(World record for a 13.05 mile half-marathon: 58 minutes 23 seconds. Zersenay Tadese.)

These boys are definitely JEpic. They not only ran the marathon on no training, they ran it so fast they might as well have had a limo driver shuttling them around. (And probably did.)

What's amazing is the press coverage of this "feat:" symptomatic of how "news" is disseminated these days, Jedward's tweets were taken whole hog without any fact checking by news outfits including the ostensibly reputable BBC News and ABC (Good Morning America). They got free publicity based on 99.9% probable fraudulent claims of accomplishment and diminished the achievements of all those who trained for months for the event with their claim of "we did this run on no preparation and looked like a million bucks at the finish!" Not unlike their "musical" career made possible only by the grace of Auto-Tune, they chose to "run a marathon" with limousine shuttle service in between points of freebie publicity.

At least give the stolen medals back.

9 comments:

  1. Ok, let me fill in a few gaps.

    John and Edward Grimes are experienced long-distance runners. They ran competitively when they were in high school in Ireland and were well respected, only stopping because their pop careers took off.

    While they hadn't trained for the LA marathon, as in a specific marathon training programme, they still frequently do long distance running because they enjoy it. That's why they'd taken their running shoes with them - so they could run in Sweden, where they were working for a week after LA.

    The clothes they wore weren't actually running gear. They hadn't packed any so they improvised with what was in their suitcase. The shorts were actually swimming shorts with a decorative zip that ran the whole way around and gave them painful chafing.

    They didn't register for the race - that's an undisputed fact. They showed up on the morning of the marathon and offered to pay. An official told them they were too late, but gave them a verbal OK to run in the race anyway. So while they definitely weren't officially registered runners, they weren't strictly banditing it either.

    I'm curious about the timings with the EXIF data. Because of John and Edward's distinctive look, many runners and spectators remember seeing them, and runners have spoken of running alongside them for long stretches, including one woman who rested near them during a break. No one has mentioned seeing them leave the race.

    I guess all you need is one person with photos or a solid eyewitness account of seeing two identical twins with spiky blonde hair and matching stars and stripes outfits jumping into a car in the middle of the marathon.

    I guess the question is, if John and Edward were going to fake running the LA Marathon, why would they? It's not like they needed the publicity - they were in town for the "American Pie Reunion" premiere and received extensive press coverage for that. John, the fastest of the two, came in at 4:04:04 (and there's photographic proof of this), a very ordinary male finishing time for a marathon and hardly something that experienced long-distance runners like John and Edward Grimes would need to fake.

    You're right about the quality of the press coverage. Most of it seemed to be based on a Daily Mail report that skimmed over the tweets, cherrypicking the most outrageous details. Even John and Edward said they'd slept, eaten and trained before the marathon - just not as much as a regular runner would!

    It's also worth mentioning that John and Edward don't need autotune either. I'm sure you haven't been following their music careers, but they've come a long way in the two and a half years since the their wobbly but entertaining X Factor days. They're now 20, they have strong voices and regularly entertain sold-out venues without any digital enhancement. Most significantly, they sang live at Eurovision - not a feat for amateurs. And there are timestamped photos to prove it :-)

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    1. Thanks Robyn: but "strong runners with experience" still does not explain how they were spotted at 9:10AM at Mile 10 on TV, and then spotted at 9:46AM at Mile 22 in a photo with EXIF. This is not just "runners with experience:" this is superhuman, as in motorized most likely.

      As for their being seen: I don't doubt that. That was exactly their purpose: to be seen. The timing facts don't add up to their having run a race from start to finish, on foot.

      Also: I know one of them "came in" at 4:04 - that doesn't prove he ran from start to finish.

      I came in around then also and saw him "finish." That does not explain why he was at Mile 22 at 9:46AM but then it took him, 1 hours, 45 minutes to go the next 4.2 miles?

      The point is, their "appearances" along the race course are all over the place in terms of actual time, and some clearly identified times and locations indicate the only way they could have been at those places would be if they were driven from place to place.

      As for "why" would they fake a run, that's really easy: Free PR. It does not take too much of a stretch to figure out "why" they would want to do this. If they actually finished but came in at 7:15:44, and looked all drenched in sweat, that would look pretty ho-hum, and would not fit their "We're so JExcellent" image. They can't take the chance of not finishing with a smile and with a respectable time.

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    2. So, I had a look at some other photos taken by bloodyeyeballs that were geotagged at that same location. I found a photo of third-place-getter Justin Patananan, with the EXIF time of 8.34am. According to his splits, he would have only reached around the 20K mark at that time, not 35km. Did Justin Patananan jump in the car with John and Edward? No, but it's likely that bloodyeyeballs's camera didn't have a correct time set. If we give John and Edward about an extra hour at that stage, their timing starts to look rather unremarkable.

      Also, your estimate of the time of the news broadcast is totally accurate. YouTube uploader MrJepicFan (who, by the way, is just a Canadian fan who mainly uploads North American TV appearances of Jedward) excitedly tweeted when he saw them live on KTLA at 9.04am.

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  2. This is bloodyeyeballs and I am sorry that my camera was off an hour as I did not reset it for daylight savings time. So the twins did come by at 10:46 am. Thanks for admiring my photos - I live walking distance from the course so it is a fun morning!

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  3. Oh my God this whole post is hilarious.

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  4. So any apologies for trying to discredit them for something they actually did?

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  6. Will you add an update at the top of this post indicating that new information completely invalidating one of your sources, from the source themselves, means that you were wrong? I can't stand "Jedward" but trollshit is worse :)

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  7. Why would these kids, both talented distance runners, lie about jogging the length of this course in a time of 3:50:xx?

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