An episode of the TV series West Wing has Pres. Bartlet confronting his staff with the complex problem of getting two enemy leaders to talk peace rather than continue warring. The president said “I want to hear your ideas – all of them – no idea is too stupid.”

What’s wrong here?

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On Sunday 04 September 2011 after the photo came out on Gretawire (above left), some of us rolled our eyes at the prospect of Sarah actually finishing a whole race. I mean it’s not like she has a great track record for finishing what she starts. On the Monday following, after a few flippant comments had flown about the blogosphere, Joe McGinniss posted the photo of Sarah crossing the finish line (above right), a screenshot of her official score and a scathing reprimand to all of us who (according to Joe) were behaving like mean girls in light of Sarah’s obvious athletic achievement. Her score was recorded. She therefore finished the race and earned the medal. Case closed. Move along children…

The scolding, coming from a man who was only days away from releasing the most brutal of expose`s yet to be published about this very same woman struck me as – well, weird. Joe had made many mean-girl statements about Sarah on his blog. Still – here was a brilliant author taking us to task so out of respect I looked again.

Alas, as many times as I looked at the photo in his post and then at the Gretawire photo, trying hard to see the validity he was seeing all I saw was the polished edges of a scam.

Who runs 13 miles in under two hours and leisurely walks across the finish line?

How does a person sweat all over their shoulders and upper chest without having a droplet around their neck, hairline, face, underarms, breasts?

Clearly that huge splash on Sarah’s shoulders had to be water. But what, if one is not over-heated and sweating, would necessitate the need to be cooled off via drenching?

How does a woman run 13 miles in full face and eye makeup and not have one iota of mascara dribbling down her cheeks?

Why weren’t Sarah’s cheeks flushed and skin mottled?

Why wasn’t Sarah doubled over trying to catch her breath?

How does any large-breasted woman run 13 miles without confining her girls in a proper sports bra?

Nobody is that great an athlete thought I…

This image also emerged on that Monday from one of the organiser’s Flickr accounts. It was taken just after the medals were awarded, not long after Sarah crossed the finish line. This particular photo did Laura Novak’s head in because of Sarah’s makeup which looks freshly applied.

To quote Laura:  For all the strange phoniness about this story, it’s the make-up plastered on the face at the end that kills me.

Laura has personally run marathons and won medals. She has an entirely different take on what transpires before, during and after crossing a finish line. Laura was instrumental in helping a few of us iron out some of the finer points of marathon protocol. I’ve linked to the article itself (above). It’s a lovely read and her writing is so detailed it had me longing for my city of birth.

Sarah’s hair looks bone dry and there’s not one hair stuck to her neck at the hairline. Even her bangs – that were matted and damp less than a month earlier at the Iowa State Fair after doing nothing more than walking around talking to people – are completely dry.

The photo would later cause a guest named Mel to roll her eyes as she noted the water splash in this shot, taken after the one crossing the finish line, appears to have still more water applied to the tee. Why?

Many of the oddities which initially caught my attention in comparing the Gretawire photo to the photo of Sarah casually strolling across the finish line were proved early on to be either outright off-pudding on my part or completely inconsequential. On the other hand each wrong turn exposed something new to explore – what is it they say about innovations and accidents? Being wrong can be just as fruitful as being right. I embraced my wronghood and soldiered on.

My friend Gryphen, author of The Immoral Minority, poked fun at the Gretawire photo as well but instead of writing his opinions in a post, simply pointed to my post from his, linking his very busy blog to my tiny, little, quiet one. It overwhelmingly registered almost a year’s worth of traffic in 8 days. For me the experience was not unlike riding out a San Francisco earthquake of respectable size, but without my Aunt Ellen’s treasured China plates falling off the wall. It was exhilarating, terrifying and a miracle that I didn’t get fired because I got no work done at all for more than a week. And at the end of the day I got to know a lot of good people and I’m hopeful there were sturdy friendships made during the journey.

“Sarah leapt from the back of the pack like a gazelle with a lion on her ass” –OzMud

Taking the advice from the West Wing writers, I asked my guests to take risks. To share every thought no matter how silly or foolish it might sound because the whole point of understanding Sarah Palin is to understand those three principles set down by her recent biographers Frank Bailey and Geoffrey Dunn.

In Sarah’s world:
1. It is easier to lie than to tell the truth.
2. No lie is too outrageous.
3. Sarah is utterly obsessed with her public image and would do anything to protect it.

In order to uncover the truth about Sarah Palin we need always to think outside the norm, to embrace the most outlandish of outrageous ideas and to not be afraid of being wrong in the process. Something was amiss with these photos. No idea would be too stupid to not discuss.

The following image is a map of the top 25 issues noted by the 184 commenters and myself who took part in this exercise over the course of those eight days. There were many, many more observations made and noted, but these seemed the most frequently visited.

Pet names evolved describing the other runners in the photo to facilitate discussion as none of us knew them personally. In the end we jointly grew rather fond of them all and found most of the nicknames to be rather endearing.

Below the map is an index of each noted image flaw. Factual or probable explanations for them appear in [purple brackets]. No info in [purple] means we have yet to agree on a reasonable explanation other than – she cheated and the image is photo-shopped.

This is the result of our 8-day photo-opsy:

1. Feet appear to be floating with no thought given to the fact Sarah is about to slam her foot down partially on lawn and partially on concrete curb.

1. Odd pixelation pattern on left side of toe. [Probable cause: image compression]

3. White smudge on pants below left knee appears on right leg at finish line. [Smudge is actually a brand name which is on both legs but gets caught up when fabric rolls]

4. Appearance of dent in black pants (foreground) at white shoe (background). [Possible cause: compression of image. I am still not convinced. It looks to me like the common mistake in photo-shopping of trimming away too many pixels on the overlaid image.]

5. Was the red sleeve deliberately trimmed away to show bib number? (Where did the red jumper go? Has the bib number been enhanced?) [Red jumper held by Todd at finish line – no conclusion on the other]

6. Is this a collar to a third jumper? [Believe it’s the neckline of the grey tee pulled up for some odd reason]

7. Why the over-sized headband? Where did it go? [Band probably a throw-away.]

8. Toes of two white shoes behind the leg not one – so can’t belong to the lady in khaki shorts. Someone else?

9. Oddly shaped shoe – flapping wings or laces maybe? Two curved rows of white pixels float above the heel like motion lines in a cartoon. Where’d they come from?

10. Bottom of shoe has no curve at all – looks like it was cut at the seam above.

11. [Teletubby] Oddly shaped shoes. Are there two? Are they both in the air?

12. Curb disappears. Concrete ends at soil edge then green lawn.

13. [Teletubby] has no facial features. None. Figures farther away from camera have more.

14. Looks like sewn in seam from trees down to shoe at #9.

15. Squared-off curb returns.

16. [Bunny Hop Lady] Running in place? At this angle wouldn’t she fall?

17. Why is she the only one looking at the camera?

18. [Red Bandana Guy] Not his ponytail – neck is perfectly shaved and hair is short-short.

19. [Boofy hair] Whose hair is this? (We decided it was probably not Ponytail girl as depicted in the 7th post). But where is the runner’s body?

20. Runner missing lower buttocks and entire right leg from upper thigh to foot. Is left leg too small for this big man?

21. Rounded, bevelled curb appears.

22. Double foot? Is one shoe stepping on top of second shoe?

23. Runner missing foot. [It’s possible his ankle and large foot are hidden perfectly by the other runner’s thigh but not many of us are buying that.]

24. [Red Bandana Guy] hovering like Sarah above the ground.

25. Why the short distance between walkers still in their close pack and runners spread out and in full sprint?

Plausible explanations have been expressed for 7 of the 25 oddities. #9 through #14 have also been attributed (by more than one commenter) to the result of compressing a larger image – but – as many of us have reservations about the seam left behind and as I’ve never seen a compression leave that long a straight ‘seam’ I’ve chosen to leave all the idiosyncrasies they proffer in the unresolved pile.

Even if there were only a few unresolved details in this photo left to mull over and wax philosophic on, I fail to see how any rational-thinking person could look at the sheer preponderance of problems this photo presents and still ask us to simply ignore them all and move along…

I have great respect for those educated professionals who have taken the time to stop by my blog and offer the reasons they disagree with this project – and even those who have on other blogs discarded my observations as stuff and nonsense and a distraction from real issues of the day. That said, at the end of the day I’m obliged to follow my instincts, not those of someone else. And the bottom line for me is – it’s entirely possible these photos can prove Sarah Palin faked this race subsequently cheating two real, hard-working, tax-paying Americans from receiving medals they honestly earned.

If undressing that sort of public fraud is distracting – we clearly live in two different worlds.

If nothing else, doubting-bat-thomases riddle me this: Why does Sarah appear more relaxed and rested in the shot of her crossing the finish line than in the shot of her taking off in the purported first few metres of the race? Because the face of the lady in the red jumper is so distorted from what looks to be a jaw-clenched, struggled expression, (one that is normally associated with extreme physical exertion),  that many of us assumed it was a different person altogether.

Yet we would be wrong. Both shots are of Sarah and just one hour and forty-six minutes after her face is twisted from having physically run only a few metres we find our darling of the tight abs set strolling effortlessly across the finish line of a 13 mile race, powder dry, even-breathed and quipping “Boy that was fun!”.

How did the eye witness at the finish line describe her again? Oh yes – it was as if she’d only just run around the block a few times…

Running With Sarah: Did she or Didn’t she? (Summary Part 4 to follow)
[Back to Summary Part 2]
[Back to Summary Part 1]

Brenda… McVinua was working as a volunteer in the “chute” near the finish line, and was impressed with the former vice-presidential candidate’s form. “She wasn’t even breathing hard. You could tell she’s an athlete. If you didn’t know better you would have thought she’d just run around the block once or twice.” – Storm Lake Pilot Tribune

Photo posted on Gretawire 04 Sept 2011

Because this photo struck some of us as odd, 184 commenters joined me in actively pouring over all the available photographs chronicling the events of 04 September 2011 in Storm Lake Iowa. This is what I (we) believe really happened at the SLRC Jump Right In & Run Half Marathon on 04 September 2011 and why.

What we know w/comments in italics:

Sarah Palin had been under scrutiny in the blogs for more than a month for her increasingly gaunt physical appearance. Rumours surfaced from an anonymous commenter at The Immoral Minority claiming to be linked to Sarah’s inner circle of loyalists and claiming that he/she had personal knowledge of Sarah being so obsessed with her weight and appearance that she was binging and purging food and taking non-prescribed diet pills. (For the purpose of this narrative, it matters not that these rumours prove true or false, only that Sarah knew the rumours were circulating. It is Sarah’s personal writer Rebecca Mansour who unwittingly outed Sarah as keeping up with the Alaska, anti-palin blogs.)

Sarah was registered to run in the SLRC race before her trip to Iowa on 02 September 2011. She was registered under her maiden name, Sarah Heath. Running in the event was not something she or Todd could have arranged at the last minute, it was scheduled in advance. How far in advance, we don’t know, but SLRC rules did not allow for impromptu entries. This provided ample opportunity to survey the course and grounds.

Sarah and Todd stayed at the Kings Pointe Hotel (see yellow #1 in the map below) the night before. They would not have needed to check out until after the race, meaning they would have had access to the room during the race.

Todd picked up her running packet early. Sarah would not join the other runners until closer to the 7:30am race time, but we know she was recognised as a gentleman identifying himself as Teledude later wrote on his pro-palin blog that his wife, a participant in the race, recognised Sarah at 7am and called him from the course on her cell to urge him to drive out to get a glimpse of Sarah and Todd. He was instructed to not say anything to others as Sarah didn’t want it known she was there. The race was personal she’d purportedly whispered to the woman, thus assuring her silence.

Three races were run simultaneously that day. The half marathon, a half marathon relay and a 5k run/walk. The half marathon runners lined up on one side of a grassy meridian while the 5k runners/walkers lined up on the other side. All the races began at the same time, the centre meridian dividing the half marathon racers from the 5k racers for several metres.

Hours after the end of the Jump Right In & Run half marathon race, after winners had been determined and medals handed out, the photo at the top of this post was published on Gretawire, a blog belonging to Greta Van Susteran of Fox News Channel and offered as a news release that Sarah Palin had in fact, earlier in the day, run in the SLRC race and even took second place in her age group. It was noted that Sarah had fooled everyone by registering under her maiden name (Sarah Heath) and not even the race officials recognised her until after she crossed the finish line. Her official time of 1:46 (13 consecutive 8 min miles) would be published the following day in the official .pdf results posted on the SLRC website.

On Monday this photo emerged of Sarah walking across the finish line

The red jumper and white headband were gone. For five days these would be the only photos posted anywhere online showing Sarah as an active participant of the race. Privately taken photos of Sarah and Todd after the race (the 2nd place medal strangely looped over her arm) showing Sarah posing with race organisers and participants surfaced by Monday night on the flickr account of one of the organisers. By now Teledude had posted his one photo of Sarah standing with him and his wife with the chute in the background.

The official photographs posted for view and sale on the SLRC website appeared five days later. There were two photos taken of Sarah placing her, in both shots, with the 5k pack, and both appear to have been taken at the beginning and early leg of the race. There are no photos of her at any of the water stops or anywhere else along the route even though there was more than one official photographer taking photos that day, that the number of registered runners was relatively small and that most other runners can be found in multiple photos, throughout the entire half marathon course.

There are photos taken that show Todd behind the finish line, beside the chute. He’s holding a rolled-up bright red fabric, the same colour as Sarah’s red jumper. It was reported that Todd ran interference, hurrying Sarah through the candid photos taken after the race with other runners and locals, ostensibly to get her aboard an awaiting plane.

This is the (7 mile long) map showing all three race courses:

What we think we know w/comments in italics:

I (we) believe the initial photo posted on Gretawire is a composite of different photos taken by Todd at the beginning of the race and emailed directly to someone in the Palin camp to be merged into a single image showing Sarah pulling away from the back of the 5k pack, presumably to show her darting ahead and join the other half marathon runners. Todd was seen, recognised and spoken to in the starting area of the race and he could have stood in one spot and clicked different views of the 5/k runners as they went by. (No one ever stepped forward to claim photo rights to the only photo shown round the world of the famous Sarah Palin running a 13 mile race – and no exif info was ever retrieved from the image.)

On the map above, the half marathon course is shown in blue, the relay in dark red and the 5k in bright red. Sarah could easily have stayed on the 5k course, unnoticed, wearing the red jumper and wide headband as she bobbed in between the runners who had already seen her wearing them at the start. She could have ducked into the toilet (green T near yellow #3) and removed her visor, headband, numbered bib and red jumper, waited for Todd, strolled back to the hotel or blended in with other bystanders, confidant that none of the 5k runners or walkers or any passers-by would have taken any notice of her without the identifiable running togs.

She might have even stuck it out long enough to run the first half of the 5k course, ducking into the hotel as she passed by the parking lot.

I’ve not said this before because it sounds so James Bond-ish it’s almost embarrassing – on the other hand, this is Sarah, for whom nothing is too outrageous, so forgive the slight melodrama but here’s a thought… It is possible the wide headband had a purpose. The compression-bandage sized width and thickness would have covered and held in place a Bluetooth earpiece by which Todd could have helped her leave the course without being seen. Sarah could have let him know when she was approaching a pre-arranged spot and waited for him to tell her no one was looking. An earpiece – admittedly a far-fetched idea on my part- would allow any number of scenarios, each rife with an opportunity to cheat.

But even without fancy gadgetry, Todd and Sarah had ample time the night before to walk the track and make a plan. They had plenty of time to select areas that would seem convenient to slip out of and back into the race. If they didn’t communicate via electronics, Todd could have planned to meet Sarah at a predetermined point. He could have given her his big blue jacket and shielded her from sight until it was time to walk back to a point near the end of the race where she could just slip back in. No longer in the red jumper and headband, no one would have paid any attention. Todd could have dumped water on her shoulders to hide the fact she wasn’t over-heated and sweating. Then Sarah could have run a short distance to clock-in at the finish line in just under two hours – exactly one-half the time of her record run back in ’05 for exactly one-half the distance.

According to the article in the Storm Lake Pilot Tribune linked above: Sarah reportedly said “Boy that was fun!” as she crossed the finish line. And according to their eye-witness, Brenda McVinua, she wasn’t even out of breath.

Wow. What a great image for a mother of five and White House aspirant!

Food for thought: If Sarah’s record-breaking run in a 2005 marathon of 3:59:36 (26 consecutive 9 minute miles) was legitimate, she might have assumed she could go half the distance six years later, with little or no training. (If it wasn’t legitimate, she might have used the false time as a measure for how fast she needed to finish half the distance to appear legitimate.)

Whether she and Todd Googled half marathon schedules or called in favours, she was registered to run in the SLRC race before her trip to Iowa on the 2nd. In a small race, in a small town and registered under her maiden name her presence would not have been expected, allowing her to blend in with the other racers until she was ready to reveal her identity.

Appearing in a half marathon would conveniently dispel the rumours of Sarah being unfit physically. The irony of running a race in the month of September would certainly not be lost on her and would probably signal renewed hope and energy to those supporters she’d just disappointed less than 24 hours previously by not announcing a 2012 candidacy.

I’m sure some of you are going to make me wear the Bluetooth comment. No worries. I learned a long time ago that in order to get to one truly good idea you have to wade through about a hundred really bad ones. But before you start the head-shaking and mocking, humour me for a few seconds more. Go back and take another look at the half marathon course. While you’re looking, mull over the fact that Todd is photographed in the finish line/chute area holding the red jumper which Sarah is neither wearing nor holding as she crosses the finish line. If Sarah ran the full half marathon, how did Todd know where – in 13 miles of track over 7 miles of ground – to pick up the red jumper and headband? If they pre-arranged a pick-up, how did Sarah know – before the race – when she would need to take it off?

I didn’t know this before the SLRC race but according to real marathoners who commented on my early questions, runners routinely use disposable clothing specifically so they can pitch layers as they warm up and not worry about losing items of value. Why didn’t Sarah just toss her red jumper? She’s a millionaire after all. She could have tossed her jumper and bought a dozen more in the hotel gift shop an hour later.

And why was Todd holding the jumper, all bunched up in a wad to begin with? Why would he walk around with this in his hands for 30 minutes to an hour – or more? Why not just put it in their room or leave it in the car? Either would have been conveniently close by. It crossed my mind that perhaps Sarah didn’t toss the red jumper during the race because if she’s not a real runner – like me – she might not have known that’s what other runners do. It’s more likely that in an effort to fake participation, she would have deliberately given Todd her jumper to purposefully hold onto the ten or fifteen minutes before re-entering the race so no one would question where it went….

Running With Sarah: Did she or didn’t she? (Summary Part 3 to follow)

[Back to Summary Part 1]

I have to run… Sweat is my sanity. A great frustration I had during the campaign was when the McCain staff wouldn’t carve out time for me to go for a run. The days never went as well if I couldn’t get out there and sweat. – Sarah Palin  Runners World Aug 2009

It’s a bit back to front I admit, but after the dust settled on the week-long photo-opsy of the Gretawire picture and while putting together a summary of sorts to close the book on the subject, yet another puzzling observation surfaced, this time popping out at me from *a comment previously overlooked in my endeavour to deal with just the photographic evidence on hand. But I believe the train of thought evoked by this comment belongs at the front of this piece rather than at the end as it speaks directly to the validity of Sarah Palin’s public record as a runner, and I think it would benefit anyone reading the summary to be aware of these facts – and they are documented facts – while digging through the preponderance of anomalies discovered in photographs the Palins offered as proof positive that Sarah earned her silver medal at the Storm Lake Running Club on 04 September 2011.

For the record – there is no public record of Sarah Palin being an avid, dedicated runner capable of setting records and winning top medals.

Among Alaskans, Sarah’s name is associated with a marathon remembered as Running with the Devil but the remembered date varies between 2001 and 2003. I’ve performed searches on archived run results from 2000 to 2004 and neither her married nor maiden name appears in official results of archive searches associated with this event.

The name Sarah Palin surfaces in running circles for the first time in the 2nd Annual Curtis C. Menard II Memorial 5k/10k run in 2003 held in Wasilla AK. Sarah ran with Todd, Bristol and Willow in the 5k run.

Their recorded ages and times were:

Sarah Palin, 39, 23:50.30
Bristol Palin, 12, 39:19:40
Willow Palin, 8, 43:53:30
Todd Palin, 38, 55:28:50

Sarah’s name next appears in 2005 where her recorded time of 3:59.36 set a record in the Humpy’s Marathon. There is no public record of her training for this race, nor have any anecdotes of her training in private ever emerged (that we can find) in Alaska newspapers (not even in Wasilla where she had been mayor for several years).

In 2009 Sarah publicly announced her intent to run in two separate charity events, both of which she exited in the early laps claiming both times the press she’d attracted threatened to ruin the integrity of the race for the other runners. (It’s fair to note that both of these charity runs would have been photographed anyway, with or without her presence.)

Save a single episode in high school where her participation in a basketball game earned her the nickname Sarah the Barracuda, no college, university, high school, private gymnasium, community sports club or local joggers ever came forward during the 2008 campaign with photos or anecdotes of Sarah as an athlete, much less a dedicated, top-notch runner. Surely the McCain campaign would have jumped at the chance to pony up such a story…

Other than these four events (a 5k run in 2003, marathon in 2005 and two incomplete charity runs in 2009) there are no photo-based stories backing her (many) claims of being a serious runner who for her entire adult life has run “at least 3 miles” per day (whenever she can). She has, however, been paid handsomely for more than one photo op-ed which touts her as such.

To maintain a body so disciplined one can – on a moment’s notice – step into a race without the usual physical preparation, even 15 and 20 years after high school, and after having birthed 4 or 5 children to set record times and rake in top medals – one must surely be a profoundly superior athlete. But those of us who have followed Sarah for the past three years just find this explanation – odd.

And if that thought isn‘t curious enough on its own, some of us also find it odd that there is no documentation of Sarah’s lifelong journey as an avid runner. None. No team photos from her days in college, no community runs organised as mayor of Wasilla or even as governor of Alaska. In Sarah’s own words I have to run… Sweat is my sanity.

This is the age of IPOD. Where’s the candid footage of Sarah doing all this running?

Raw talent only goes so far. Athletes who excel in their sport make certain commitments to train, practice and participate in local, state and national events. There is evidence Sarah Palin may indeed have the raw talent but there’s not one shred of evidence she’s made the commitment or puts in the time necessary to turn that talent into record-breaking, medal-winning athletics.

Not without cheating.

*From AKShutterbug (whose comment below made us look beyond one race and into the entire history of Sarah Palin the runner. I have not been able to confirm the validity of this comment – but after looking through Sarah’s sparsely documented public record I have no reason to doubt it.)

 “Actually she faked the run in ’05 too. A few years ago when I was looking into the “Humpy’s” race in Anchorage she supposedly ran, I noticed something very interesting in the results. A very good friend of mine (who has been running marathons for years and spends a tremendous amount of time training) was listed as having finished one spot ahead of her. So I called her up and asked her if she knew that she had finished just ahead of Sarah Palin and her response to me was just laughter. She said that Sarah was never in that race.

 Sarah has some weird obsession with making people think she is a runner. When she came here to Valdez in ’07 to announce what that years PFD was going to be, Sarah stepped off the plane with spandex and running shoes on. Her handlers kept insisting that she wanted to go running with our HS cross county team but it was only 10am and the kids were in school. Her handlers kept berating the Mayor until he finally called the school and managed to get most of the team excused from 8th period so she could go “running” with them. They all met out on the track, Sarah posed for a few pictures with them and then left. She didn’t lift a shoe and after making everyone jump through hoops for her, it ended up being nothing more than another photo op. She’s a complete and total fraud”

[To Summary Part 2]

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?