Wasn’t going to post this for another day but since the photos are now up at Storm Lake Running Club and no one seems to be able to find Sarah anywhere but running past the 5k walkers at the starting line and once more at the finish line I thought I might risk being labeled disrespectful in order to share my discoveries.

So… once more with feeling.

[click each image to enlarge – see also view/zoom feature on browser toolbar]

This is the image that has had us all bewitched, bothered and bewildered for a week now. We’ve dissected, lightened, darkened, enhanced and flipped our way around the image until most of us have simply gone batty.

A lot of details we thought might be bogus turned out to not be so bogus in the end:  The changing size of the runner’s bib, for example, can be explained by how runners check into the finish line and have bottom strips removed for either time confirmation or receipt of participant goodies. The red shirt and white headband so prominent in this photo yet gone in the finishing line photo can be chalked up to disposable clothing. And so it goes, one by one most of my original misgivings have been satisfactorily explained away.

Wait. Not so fast there buster. Like all things Sarah,  answering one question only seems to open the door onto a dozen more.  So here is the above photo, spliced and copies laid side-by-side  for all of you good people out there with younger eyes (than mine) to help me work out which feet belong to which runner and please – where have some of these runners legs and upper bodies gone?

Let’s look at the last half first…

The Case of Too Many Shoes and Not Enough Legs:

The first bit actually hurt my head. (Insert on left, blue outline on right.) Is this a single shoe with either a big sock or leg warmer folded down to cover the entire top of the shoe? Wouldn’t it drag on the ground and possibly catch on something if it were? And if it is one shoe why is it pointing more toward the camera than the direction in which the runner is facing? I tried to duplicate this shoe angle and almost fell over in the process. It just isn’t natural.

So what if it’s more than one shoe? If that’s not a sock turned down at the ankle, then its quite possibly a second foot (insert on left, pink outline on right) – one that doesn’t seem to belong to anyone in the photo, but will cause this runner to fall flat on his face if he keeps going forward and steps on it.

Then, of course, as some of you have already pointed out this poor man’s upper thighs appear to be well – missing with no sign of a right leg upon which to balance his left leg which happens to be very committed in  a forward stride. The angle of the leg/ankle/shoe suggests it is more straight than bent but if that’s the case we should be looking at a portion of his right, upper, inner leg under his ever-so-petite buttocks instead of the curb and wheel of a bike or wheelchair. Very curious.

I apologize to the poor man whose foot I removed (yellow outline on left) to demonstrate where I thought his missing foot should be. It is, of course, entirely possible that this foot is completely hidden by the  runner-in-red-sweatband’s leg. But not all that probable for nary an inch of it to be peeking through at the crux of the other runner’s bent knee. (Wine anyone?)

The lady we’ve come to know as the bunny hop lady could be running in place, like people do when they’re warming up but what I truly find odd is out of all these people she is the only one looking straight at the camera.

Now we come to The Case of the Extra Toes (pun not my fault – my mother made us watch Perry Mason every week):

This is the image I worked on for a couple of days and I noticed in comments that more of you picked up on this while I was off trying to enhance it. Sadly, my graphics program is simply not capable of enlarging an image to 200%+ and retain its integrity. That’s a problem of a generalized usage of 72 dots per inch – you can only advance so many generations before pixelation makes it impossible to see the image. However, I did try to alter the resolution, in spite of the fact that I don’t have the equipment to do a proper job.

In this case however and even just lo0king at the lower resolution I feel there is a compelling case for the white left shoe of the tall runner peeking between the black pants legs to belong to someone else entirely.

At first glance, the toe of the white shoe appears to belong to the extended left leg of the runner in the white sweatshirt and khaki shorts, to the right and behind the red-shirted runner we politely refer to as ‘Sarah’. Upon enlarging however, there appears to be a second ‘toe’. If it is a second toe that changes everything.

If this is a pair of white shoes rather than one left white shoe and a (truly odd) shadow, then the person who owns them is standing perfectly still, completely hidden between the tall runner in white sweatshirt and khaki shorts and the red-shirted runner.

How would that even be possible? (Maybe a tall vodka tonic…)

And now we come to the observation which I was slow to find but which most of you have already nailed as The Case of the Not-so-Hidden Seam. What are the odds a natural seam in a photo would run almost the entire length, perfectly straight – not one pixel out of line? Have a really good look at the disproportions of objects on the right of the seam compared to objects on the left.

On either side of this seam I found a missing shoulder, breast, knee, leg and curb. I also found either a foot way too big for it’s owner or a leg missing it’s foot above a curb taller than the one to the left of it. There is the sole of a grey running shoe that is perfectly straight, not one curve, not one pixel length difference  between the sole, the heel, the arch… Follow this line up into the trees in the first photo and then look carefully at the black-hoodie – why is this the only image in the entire photo with no facial features whatsoever? It’s not the farthest-most image. It’s directly in the center of the camera lens. Even the tall runner further behind has a distinguishable brow line and eye sockets. Why is this runner, with the oddly-shaped leg in blue shorts and misshapen shoe, the only runner with no face at all?

Okay that’s it – scotch, neat please. And make it a double.

One final note.

The story from the Palin camp is that Todd whisked Sarah quickly off to an awaiting plane after the race – this was the official explanation as to why there was only time for a few folks to have their photos taken with Sarah once it became known she had run the race. And we’ve seen where the toilets were along the route. Where and when did she clean her face adding the fresh make-up we see here?

Because Laura Novak is absolutely correct – face and eye make-up do not survive 13 consecutive 8-minute miles.

Oh Hell, just leave the bottle…

Anyone remember when Sarah made a public fuss over how she didn’t believe Pres. Obama had fairly earned his 2009 Nobel  Peace Prize?

Back at ya babe.

============  Update  ============

Hey everyone -After having written these posts, reading all your comments and digging through SLRC photos and then hearing comments from folks like Greta Van Susteran (et al) I think I may have actually formed a theory. It starts with some remarks  made by a few commenters regarding photos of Sarah just published on the Storm Lake Running Club website and grows to this question:

If running-with-scissors-sarah got one of the top run times, besting most of the runners even those half her age, why is she seen ONLY running at the back of the pack of 5k runners/walkers?

Maybe that’s the whole point of the photo-shopped picture. Maybe Sarah actually tried to run this race but either she or Todd realized early on that she was not going to be able to complete it. They would have little to no control over the hundreds of candid and pro shots that would inevitably be published, eventually showing how far she would fall behind. But they could create a diversion…

The visual of a full sprint Sarah running around the 5k pack into the heart of the half marathon pack would take our attention off her actual placement in the race and focus on the illusion that she runs so fast she could easily pull ahead any time she wanted to not only complete the course but to subsequently win the day.

Now any photos published of her with the 5k runners is of no consequence. The photo released by Greta Van Susteran on Fox tv is now sold as proof positive Sarah ran the entire half marathon. And the frosting on the cake? The photo-that-wasn’t was strategically placed to show the public that she is physically fit and therefore capable of jumping in at the last minute to win a race and run a country.

Except, of course, that’s a lie.

(Ok, who’s hording the cheap Inglenook?)

============  Update 2  ============

H/T to CO & kat:

Take a really really good look:

wait for it…

Well? Where’s the rest of the pony-tailed runner?