For fun, here’s a summary of how the Kip Litton investigation began, as far as I know it. Most of this focuses on how I learned about the situation. (Having re-read just now what I wrote below, I suppose it comes across as kind of self-congratulatory, but my intention was to make sure that the record of my own investigation gets up on the web somewhere for posterity.) If you’ve read all 800 of these LR posts along with the previous deleted threads, you may know most of this. I don’t think, however, that the early investigations were clearly laid out:
I wish I could say that I was the first one who caught Litton cheating, but that was actually Kip himself in the 2009 Crim 10 mi. According to Clarkston Kent, who I’ve conversed with by e-mail outside of this thread, he dropped out after 5 mi, then inexplicably, he appeared near the finish line and ran across. Later, he asked that his results be removed, which they did for the awards that day. However, no-one ever removed him from the automated finish results, so he still shows up as having run sub-56.
Two months later, Clarkston Kent, along with some other folks at the Detroit Free Press relay questioned him intensively about cheating on his leg, and eventually he confessed that he “must have taken a wrong turn.”
As far as I know, the trail got cold for awhile at that point, as Kip continued to cheat in late 2009 and early 2010. However, when Litton ran the Deadwood Michelson Trail Marathon in June of 2010, he apparently got too greedy or too careless, as he was DQ’d by the race director. See my previous post this evening for more info.
In July, I ran the Missoula Marathon and became interested in Litton about a week after the race when I was trying to put together a “story of the Masters race” for myself and a few friends who finished high in the standings. I recalled that Litton didn’t show up at the awards, so I didn’t get to shake his hand, and I had no idea what he looked like. So I used the Missoula Marathon’s photo website to reconstruct the race to see how all of the masters runners’ races developed. The website’s photos allow you to actually calculate the time gaps between runners at various points, which was very cool, because I could see that while I was dying, other runners were blazing, like Mike Telling, who passed Litton in the final moments of the race. After looking for Litton on the photo site and examining the results, I became alarmed by all of the things that everyone has been discussing here for months – no race photos except at the finish line and a weird gun/chip differential.
Suspicious, I googled him and found his defunct worldrecordrun.com website and his athlinks results. His website listed all of his marathons, including some that weren’t up yet on athlinks, like Deadwood and West Wyoming. I started looking at their photos, much like all of you have been doing (though you’ve been doing it much more thoroughly than me), and became convinced that he had cheated in almost all of his 2010 marathons, including some that haven’t yet been scrutinized, like Go! St. Louis.
I contacted a friend who did all of the announcing for the Missoula race, and he put me in touch with the race director. When I e-mailed her my suspicions about Litton, she told me that she had just been alerted to him by the race director at Deadwood, who had just DQ’d him. Apparently the race director had gotten word of Litton’s participation at Missoula. The Missoula race director simply e-mailed me and all of the other top runners a photo of Litton and asked if we had seen him anywhere on the course. When none of the runners reported seeing him, he was DQd because of the compendium of evidence. He didn’t dispute the DQ.
Of course, by now I was sucked in, fascinated and pissed off by the cheating. So I began contacting by e-mail and by phone a number of the race directors at his early 2010 marathons. I spoke by phone with the Vermont City, Providence, Deadwood and Delaware marathons. I was only able to find an e-mail for the WWY marathon, so I e-mailed him (Rich Rodriguez). Jerry Dunn at Deadwood confirmed what the Missoula RD had told me, and the other race directors launched investigations. “Rich Rodriguez” replied to my e-mail (see text in an earlier post on middle of page 15 of this thread) and said that nothing was unusual. I took the bait hook, line and sinker and figured that WWY was a legit marathon among a bunch of cheating. All of the other race directors were very thoughtful and deliberative. In the end, VC and Providence decided against DQing Litton because although they were quite suspicious, they didn’t have an incontrovertible smoking gun. Plus, they were incredibly busy and didn’t want to spend the time and energy on it. For the director at Delaware, who was suspicious even before I contacted him, the evidence was clear enough to DQ him after he exchanged several e-mails with Kip. Of all of the people I spoke with, the Delaware RD was the most incensed. He had the balls to call Kip out on his (the RDs) blog.
In the process of investigating, I developed an ad-hoc email list, which some of the responders chose to forward to their friends. It was through these expanding contacts that I got in touch with the runner you all know as Clarkston Kent. He informed me of all of the information he has thus far posted on the LR site. Another one of the e-mail group set up the very first thread on LR that many of you remember – he simply solicited information about him from the LR community. The thread went slowly at first and then exploded into the consciousness of the LR community as more and more people recognized him from their own races.
When he ran Rochester in September, all of the Kip Litton thread readers were outraged, but none of the readers were actually doing what all of you are now doing – investigating him in a really effective way. Most of us (including me) were pretty lazy – we were content to simply be incensed, but no-one did anything about it except Clarkston Kent. Having confronted him before, he confronted him again and asked him to take down his worldrecordrun.com website, which he did.
One day in late September, I googled Litton again to see if any mention of his cheating would show up on the first google page. Not only did that happen, but I found a link to “confirmed registrants” for the Maine Marathon (not half marathon), which was exactly one week away. I immediately posted this on LR, which is how, I believe, he was followed at Maine, and also how he became aware before running the marathon that he would be followed. So he apparently was able to convince the organizers to allow him to switch his registration to the half-marathon at the last minute.
Things got out of hand on the Kip Litton thread with people flaming out and posting inappropriate content. Kip complained to RoJo and WeJo, and they took it down - I think for very good reason. In December, it tried to resurrect itself several times, but kept going down immediately. Some of the threads were terrible, but others were interesting and on-point. Finally, I phoned the LR office and by a stroke of luck happened to get RoJo on the phone. I explained all of the above to him, and he read a few e-mails to me over the phone from Litton, which I debunked for the most part. He told me that the notes from Litton sounded somewhat far-fetched. He also said that it is always good to keep evidence of cheating public, so that evidence will be available for all to see. He agreed that LR was a good site for this type of thing unless people posted too much trash and vitriol. The race directors at Missoula and Delaware also wrote to LR by e-mail shortly afterwards to corroborate the DQs at their races, and it was at this time that the current thread was allowed to continue.
All of you have done a fantastic job of investigating Kip Litton. I only wish I wasn’t so addicted to the story – it seems like every day, something new is uncovered.
Here are some things that I believe still need to be looked at. I am lazy and tired, so I will leave it up to all of you to think about these items:
Go! St Louis Marathon
Status of Kip’s worldrecordrun charity in Michigan – is it registered as a 501(c)3?
How much did he actually donate to the Detroit chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
I hope that 2011 brings a conclusion to this story and if the stars align, a detailed expose in a major publication, like RW or RT."