Mayoral candidate Amara Enyia pushed back on a report that she exaggerated her competitive-running resume, calling it a ridiculous technicality that goes to “a level of nuance that laypeople don’t care about.”
On Monday morning, Derek Murphy — dubbed “the marathon gumshoe” by ESPN — posted an article on his website Marathon Investigation that accused Enyia of never completing an Ironman-branded event or a full 140.6-mile triathlon, the distance of a long-distance Ironman race. The website is currently disabled due to an unrelated matter. But Murphy provided the article’s text to the Sun-Times.
Citing her history on Athlinks, a social networking website aimed at competitive endurance athletes, the story claims Enyia has only run the Rev3 Wisconsin Dells 70.3-mile triathlon in 2012, placing 114 out of 120 female contestants, and has only completed two mini triathlons in 2010.
That conflicts with her website’s claims that she is an “ironman competitor, marathoner” and her bio in various media reports, in which she’s often described as an activist, lawyer, PhD-holder and Ironman athlete. An oft-cited 2014 Chicago Reader article says: “She’s participated in two Ironman competitions — those superinsane triathlons where you swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run a marathon.”
That’s not true, says Murphy.
“This could possibly be a case of someone just not knowing the difference. Like when someone claims they ran a 5k marathon,” said Murphy’s post. “However, with the statement being so prominent on her site, and referenced in many articles, the statement of being an ‘Ironman Competitor’ is inaccurate and should be corrected.”
But Enyia told the Sun-Times that the Marathon Investigation article was too focused on whether or not her races were part of the “Ironman” brand — a trademarked kind of triathlon.
“It looks to me, the author was looking at whether or not it was an Ironman-branded competition,” said Enyia. “The one I specifically mentioned … I’d run in Wisconsin — apparently that’s not Ironman-branded. I’m still not clear what that means. Is it under the umbrella of Ironman as a trademark?”
Enyia added that differentiating between an Ironman race and a triathlon was “going down into the weeds.”
“If you’re not a professional athlete, who knows the difference? I’m not a professional athlete, I’m just someone who does races. If I were a professional athlete, to compete to win, maybe that would be something on my radar. But laypeople just want to run the race and hopefully survive it.”
Enyia noted that the article doesn’t have a record of every race she’s run — including a past marathon she ran in Buenos Aires. She later posted a picture of herself from that race on Twitter.
Stop the presses! I ran a marathon in Buenos Aires a while back. Perhaps Chicago reporters will fly down to Argentina for the *hard-hitting* story. Meanwhile, I’ll keep speaking on violence, education, corruption, & transforming our city in this election cycle. Please, do better. pic.twitter.com/elUnHsmT0W— Amara Enyia (@AmaraEnyia) February 11, 2019
She also told the Sun-Times that she thinks she’s being singled out by “individuals who are surprised at how successful our campaign has been to this point and who don’t have any scandal or dirt except to nitpick at my degrees and how many marathons I’ve run in because they don’t have anything else.”
If 2 weeks from election folks are focused on calling out my economic hardship, nitpicking the dates of ALL the degrees I earned, & focusing on marathons & triathlons, then we hv much bigger issues. No wonder this city needs so much change. #StillHere #AllPeopleAllVoicesOneCity— Amara Enyia (@AmaraEnyia) February 12, 2019
But Murphy claims that when reaching out to Enyia and her campaign team, a spokesperson told him: “Amara did the Ironman Rev3 in Wisconsin in 2011. Additionally to Wisconsin Rev3, she ran in the Chicago marathon, Tough Mudder, and Illinois half marathon and numerous other races over the years.”
For the past three years, Murphy’s blog has been focused on exposing cheaters in the marathon world, especially those who fraudulently obtain qualifying times for the Boston Marathon.
Contributor: Fran Spielman