Outside magazine, June 1994
Wen Paul Pilkington reached the halfway point at last February's Los Angeles Marathon, he glanced over his shoulder, glanced again, and then estimated he had a quarter-mile lead. As the race's paid designated rabbit, Pilkington, a 36-year-old high school teacher from the Salt Lake City area, was supposed to set a quick pace from the get-go, luring other, presumably more-talented runners to a fast, crowd-pleasing pace. Then, at exactly the 13.1 mile mark, he would drop out, catch a cab back to Los Angeles International Airport, and fly home. Alas, the lead--not to mention $37,000 in prize money and a Mercedes sedan--proved too tempting. Pilkington kept running, tacking on one lickety-split mile after another. Meanwhile, the pack, which included U.S. champion Ed Eyestone and 1988 Olympic medalist Ahmed Salah from Djibouti, was engrossed in a slow, tactical race and seemed to forget about the rabbit. Pilkington, in a victory that veteran race observers call unprecedented, hit the finish tape first in 2:12:13. Italy's Luca Barzaghi crossed the finish line 39 seconds later, his arms held high in what he supposed was victory. When Barzaghi learned he was the runner-up, he fumed, "I was told the rabbit would drop out." Countered Pilkington: "It's a footrace. Nowhere in my contract did it say that I had to quit."