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Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Marathon winner loses race title because she never ran the race"


A Fox News article yesterday described how Kendall Schler faked winning the St. Louis marathon:

Kendall Schler is believed to have slipped onto the course on Sunday after the last checkpoint in an attempt to trick race officials into believing she ran the whole marathon.

Officials said that Schler failed to register any times on the 26.2 mile route, and that a review of the previous year’s marathon, where Schler registered a third place finish, also did not reveal any image of her on the course.


We've heard this story before, with Rosie Ruiz, who faked winning the Boston Marathon back in 1980. Ruiz was later arrested for embezzlement, and, subsequently, for cocaine dealing. As recently as 2000, she was still claiming to have run the entire Boston Marathon even though the proof against her having done so was overwhelming.

Schler, 26, is probably too young to have known of Ruiz. But they share the same personality disorder.

You really don't have to hear anything more about someone than that she faked winning a marathon to know that she is a sociopath. This one action encompasses so many different sociopathic traits that it is proof in itself.

First of all, it's completely dishonest.

Secondly, both women thought they could fool people when they couldn't -- a distinctly sociopathic belief.

Third, such a "victory" would rob other runners of their rightful glory -- but this wouldn't concern a sociopath in the least.

Fourth, one would have to lack any sense of shame or embarrassment in order to try such a stunt.

And fifth, it shows how sociopaths live in the present and are unconcerned about the future to an extent unimaginable to most. Sociopaths can actually enjoy themselves while dancing on the edge of disaster. (Otherwise, how could all those Ponzi Schemers revel in livin' large before they get arrested?)

Poets and philosophers tell us to seize the day, and not let life's treasures slip away. This is generally good advice. But at a certain level, sociopaths are the ultimate exemplars of that philosophy: they always live in the moment, the future be damned.

So, listen to the philosophers, but just don't carpe diem too much.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

But these philosophers (as well as poets like Horace) stress that you should be 'seizing the day' whilst frequently reflecting on death and loss. In reference to this fake race-winner, see what Marcus Aurelius said about reputation: "Or is it your reputation that's bothering you? But look at how soon we're all forgotten. The abyss of endless time that swallows it all. The emptiness of those applauding hands. The people who praise us; how capricious they are, how arbitrary. And the tiny region it takes place. The whole earth a point in space - and most of it uninhabited"

The philosophers certainly didn't mean getting drunk and having wild sex when they said that we should live in the moment, only that we should stop thinking so much about the past and future because we are largely powerless to change them. They believe that mastering desire is the key to happiness - the polar opposite of sociopaths who don't seem to have any control over their desires.

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
It's downright embarrassing how much more knowledgeable you are than me, especially when it comes to the philosophers. Last time you corrected me about what Socrates meant by 'the unexamined life." You'll just have to excuse the fact that I get my knowledge of the Greek philosophers from pop culture, Robin Williams movies and the like.

Your interpretation of course is much more nuanced and complete.

I'm not sociopath, but if mastering earthly desires (or ambitions) is the key to happiness, yikes, there's no hope for me.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty much always amazed by what these people (a/k/a sociopaths) will do to get what they want. Who would dream of such a scheme - ducking into a marathon, running it for a bit, then "winning" it, all so that the cheater can have the thrill of winning a marathon. Reminds me of Lance Armstrong. He loved having false wins (probably because of what he would gain: fame, money, etc.). I'm glad this person was caught.

-birdie

John Craig said...

Birdie --
Yes, justice was done in this case. And Kendall Schler was a particularly dumb cheater. But most cheaters in athletics (i.e, dopers) get away with it, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

This type of behavior utterly confounds me. Why put so much time and energy into something false, that will garner you nothing?

These people just strike me as mentally ill, acting out elaborate fantasies.

Excellent article in the New Yorker about a dentist who successfully pulled this race stunt many, many times. Have you read it?

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/08/06/marathon-man

Gardner

John Craig said...

Gardner --
Just read the article. Litton is a classic sociopath, and shows a lot of the typical behavior patterns. He's charming, according to some who know him. He's a pathological liar, and covers up his lies and deceptions with more lies and deceptions. He sees himself as a victim. He tries to strike a noble pose, what with the buying of the candy for a dollar a pound from the local kids after Halloween and sending it to the troops deployed abroad, along with toothbrushes. (If in fact he actually did that, which is questionable.) The false modesty about his running. The foundation and raising of money for his sick kid. The one day a year of free dental care to poor kids. Some of the things he did are good (again, IF he actually did them), but they were done purely to make himself look good. And he never admits that he's a liar, only that he had made honest mistakes on the running courses.

I was hoping that Mark Singer would get to the most interesting part at the end -- why Litton was that way, what kind of childhood he'd had, what his parents had been like. But, unfortunately, he was unable to get that information. (And if he'd asked Litton, all he'd have gotten would be lies anyway.)

It's hard to understand sociopaths until you can grasp that they actually ENJOY basking in the glory they have obtained falsely. Most of us can't imagine doing that, so never suspect them of doing it.

Lucian Lafayette said...

John,
Like you, I have a more than passing interest in sociopathy (my brother has strong indicators). Given what seems to be an over-indulgent, self oriented society, do you think it is possible to at least predispose persons toward sociopathy by their rearing?

Luke

John Craig said...

Luke --
I think sociopathy is mostly a matter of rearing, in particular, the lack of any real love from a parent. (There are other, organic causes, as well, such as damage to the frontal lobe of the brain, but the most important factor seems to be the lack of a bond between child and parent in the first couple years of life.)

What you're talking about -- our indulgent, "non-judgmental" society -- seems to result in self-indulgent people with little sense of responsibility, but that's a different matter. (Narcissism is not quite the same thing as sociopathy.)

Runner Katy said...

I'm so glad you posted this story! I saw this last week and immediately thought of sending the link to you. Unfortunately, we've found more and more runners like this, cheating either in bigger races, like this marathon, or even in local 5k's (where they seldom get caught). So sad, because most of the running community is filled with good, caring people who truly enjoy the fruits of their labor and doing charitable races. I hope the sociopathic world doesn't continue to join the running world, because it's sometimes hard to tell them apart (at first).

John Craig said...

Runner Katy --
I don't think you have to worry too much about the running world becoming filled with sociopaths, there's just not enough money and glory to be gained from doing well in a local 5k race. The biggest sociopath magnets will continue to be Wall Street, Washington DC, and Hollywood.

I compete in masters swimming meets myself, and I've always been struck by what a nice, friendly crowd it is, for the most part. Nobody has anything to gain from anyone else, there's no money involved, and everybody is basically competing for love of the sport and as a way to keep fit. That said, there will always be exceptions in both running and swimming, and wherever sociopaths go, you can expect them to cheat and connive and generally screw things up.

The top levels of both track and swimming are different of course, there's money there, and so there's doping as well (more so in track than swimming, from what I've seen). But I don't think you have to worry about your local 5k race turning into a snake pit, there's just not enough to attract the snakes.

Runner Katy said...

Good points, thanks! I start to worry when I see stories like this (and I had read about the dentist a couple of years ago, too). I've encountered a few locally here too, and my thoughts were that they were wise to pick the running community, as we generally would give the shirts off our backs to help someone (and they'll take it). But in the grand scheme, they won't have much to gain financially or in fame. Thanks for all of your insightful posts, I appreciate them all!

John Craig said...

Runner Katy --
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I read up about the sociopathic dentist. Interesting story. His scheme ("collecting" money for his charity), running in races (fake and real) to give the impression that he's such a noble guy, then stealing the contributions, it's all mind boggling (to say the least). As I mentioned in another post, these people amaze me. I am literally floored by them.

-birdie

John Craig said...

Birdie --
I hadn't heard that he'd stolen the contributions, but had wondered about that when I read about his charity, since a sociopath will stoop to anything.

Anonymous said...

The online articles that I read about Kip Litton, stated that the charities that he was raising money for, didn't receive any donations by way of the links that were on his website. Since people were asked to either make checks payable to his website or donate straight to a paypal account, I'm assuming that the dentist helped himself to the contributions. Litton's story is certainly bizarre, intriguing, and entertaining.

-birdie

John Craig said...

Birdie --
It's certainly entertaining, but it follows the sociopathic blueprint perfectly. Everything he's done is right in character.