Mexican Presidential Candidate Wins Berlin 17-Mile Marathon
October 10, 2007, 06:04 PM
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I`ve long argued that the LA Times should carry more news from Mexico, since it`s not just relevant, but likely to be more colorful than the "What Next for the Law of the Sea Treaty?" thumbsuckers the newspaper traditionally specialized in. Maybe they`re taking me up on my suggestion:

Former Mexican presidential candidate Roberto Madrazo made headlines in Germany, eight days after winning the Berlin Marathon in his age group.

"The Fastest Man of Mexico," said Monday`s Berliner Zeitung newspaper, referring to the 55-year-old Madrazo`s race time of 2 hours, 40 minutes and 57 seconds.

Unfortunately for Madrazo, it was a sarcastic jab. He was disqualified Monday by race officials after an investigation showed that the computer chip he carried went undetected at checkpoints along about a third of the 26.2-mile course. Madrazo appeared near the end of the race and was declared the winner of the "men`s 55-and-over" category.

"We`re disqualifying him," said a race spokeswoman Tuesday.

Marathon officials said there was no record of Madrazo crossing race checkpoints between the 12.4-mile and 21.8-mile course markers. A race video showed him bundled up in a windbreaker, hat and sweatsuit as he crossed the finish line, arms outstretched in an apparent victory salute. His weary opponents, meanwhile, soldiered past in shorts and singlets. ...

The paper found he ran the first half of the race at his normal pace. But over the more than nine miles missing from the computer record, Madrazo would have had to run faster than the world record holder to finish in his winning time.

The cheating allegation drew many wry comparisons here to the modern world record of seven decades during which Madrazo`s Institutional Revolutionary Party managed to dominate elections. ...

Madrazo would not comment on the disqualification or the race, spokeswoman Addy Garcia said Tuesday.

"At this moment he holds no public office, and he is just like any other Mexican who doesn`t have to give an explanation to anyone," she said.

Madrazo finished third in the July 2006 presidential election after being dogged by allegations that he had profited from a lifetime of public service under the PRI, as the former ruling party is known.[Madrazo disqualified from marathon By Sam Enriquez, Los Angeles Times, October 10, 2007]

The PRI candidate Carlos Salinas won the 1988 Presidential election over the leftist candidate when "the computer went down" in the middle of the vote count. When it came back up, whaddayaknow? Salinas had come from behind to take the lead! So, the computer must have gone down during the crucial midsection when Madrazo made like a 25-year-old Kenyan.

The idea of a hailing a taxi for the middle section of the race is not exactly a new strategy in marathoning. In the most hilarious footrace ever run, the 1904 St. Louis Olympics marathon, among many other bizarre incidents, Fred Lorz cramped up halfway through, so he got in a cab and rode to the stadium to see the runners enter. And, hey, why pay for a ticket when I could just jog right in? Oh, look, they`re all cheering for me! Well, those nice folks in the stands would sure be disappointed if I told them I wasn`t really in the race anymore, so I`ll just play along for the moment ... . At least that`s how Fred made it sound after he was revealed to be a fraud just before he received his gold medal. But Senor Madrazo`s ploy doesn`t even meet that smell test. It`s not like there was a vast throng cheering as the first guy in the 55+ bracket straggled in with a bunch of younger runners a half hour after the winner.