A Seattle man's inexplicably malicious anger at runners who cheat in marathons is beginning to freak everyone out, sources tell Dumb Runner.
Fred Sanford, 29, a software developer and a runner himself, "is usually fun, quiet, pretty laid back, " said one coworker, "Esther." (Names of sources have been changed to protect privacy.)
"But stories about runners who cheat," she added, "bring out this weirdly vindictive side of him. It's vicious. He talks about these guys like they're war criminals or something."
"It's a little frightening, to be honest."
Esther pointed to a few of Sanford's recent comments on the story of a woman who apparently cheated her way to a Boston-qualifying time at last fall's New York City Marathon:
"I'm like, Dude. Get a grip," said Esther. "It's running, you know?"
The four-time marathoner's habit of bashing cheaters began two years ago, friends said, with the much-publicized case of Mike Rossi. Rossi gained fame when he pulled his children from school to watch him run the 2015 Boston Marathon; told afterward that their absences would be unexcused, he responded with an indignant letter that went viral.
Soon after, Rossi's fame turned to infamy when skeptical runners concluded that Rossi had cheated when he ran his Boston-qualifying race, Pennsylvania's Via Marathon. The result was an intense public shaming.
"We all sort of piled on Rossi," said "Lamont," a fellow runner and friend of Sanford's. "There was an element of schadenfreude, for sure. But eventually most of us moved on."
"Not Fred," he added. "He found out where Rossi worked and was trying to get a bunch of us to go down there, like on a road trip, and show up with signs and stuff."
"That was last week."
Sanford's habit of haranguing cheaters, his friends said, has begun to intrude on his professional and personal lives.
"The other night, a bunch of us were going out for drinks after work," said Esther. "We tried to get Fred to join us, but he said he was commenting on an article about some guy who missed a timing mat at some race somewhere."
Esther, who was unsuccessful in her efforts to lure Fred away from his computer, said that his "keyboard pounding" was so loud she could hear it from five cubicles away.
"I don't know where this rage is coming from," she said, "but it is way disproportionate."
"Of course, I would never tell him that to his face."