A Montgomery County, Pennsylvania runner who gained national attention after his kids were not excused from missing school to see him run the Boston Marathon is batting down allegations that he cheated on previous races.
Mike Rossi rose to fame last month after he posted a letter from his children's Abington Township school saying that the family's trip to Boston would not be considered an excused absence. The post went viral with tens of thousands of people sharing and commenting on the letter.
Rossi believed the trip was not only for leisure, but offered his 9-year-old twins the chance to see historic sights and have life experiences, he told NBC10.
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But as the story circulated, runners began to question the 47-year-old's times in the Lehigh Valley Health Marathon in 2014, which records stated he ran in 3 hours and 11 minutes. The time qualified him for Boston, though some said it doesn't match any of his previous race times.
On the ground in Boston, it took Rossi 4 hours and 1 minute to finish the race — far longer than the required qualifying time.
Matt Stevens, a local race organizer, is one of the runners questioning whether the father cheated.
"The Chief Running Officer at 'Runners World', Bart Yasso, famed runner ... designed that course personally and has spoken out and attested to the fact that you can't really cut anything off that course, so unless you got into a car ...," he said.
Rossi said he was suffering from a "serious hip injury" during the Boston Marathon and that coupled with bad weather slowed him down.
"The allegation against me that I did not achieve a qualifying time at Lehigh Valley is completely false," Rossi wrote to NBC10 in a statement. "I focused my training to peak for the LV race in order to hopefully qualify for Boston."
According to Rossi, an MRI confirmed Thursday he had a tear in the gluteus medius tendon.
Organizers of the Lehigh Valley Health Marathon said they plan to review more than 19,000 photos from along the course to look for Rossi. They are also reaching out to 126 runners who finished the race around the same time as the man.