Genetically modified runners

A year ago you didn’t see warnings like the one posted next to the sign-in table of a 5-mile race I did earlier this summer.No GMR's

Now it’s commonplace, and almost every road race in Eastern Washington has a similar clause in their race entry forms.

GMR’s (Genetically Modified Runners) started showing up in early 2013. Gene therapy involving injections of horse DNA into runners was developed by a small group of genetics graduate students unable to find work. By sheer luck they met working temporary jobs last summer at a local running store. Putting their minds together, they developed a brisk backroom business offering pricey gene therapy.

It's all under the table, but if you say "I like horses", to a sales person, you'll get preferential treatment.

It’s all under the table, so you have to say “I like horses”, to get preferential treatment.

After horse DNA is injected, runners improve to levels that are beyond human. Some side effects include a mutation of the feet which gives a slight hoof-like appearance, and a thin strip of mane on the upper

GMR’s have quickly learned to throttle back to avoid suspicion. Winning by a minute or two is okay. Crossing the finish line when the second place runner is at the halfway point is not.

Fortunately GMR’s won’t challenge elite runners. Any non-human DNA in the body is easily detectable, thus this issue is limited to small-time fun runs that don’t test entrants.

One runner who admits to receiving the therapy is Todd Oglesbee, below, leading a race he easily won. When I asked if he was happy about getting the treatments, he gave a thumbs up.todd GMR runner

“They needed someone to test the therapy, so I volunteered. I’ve won every race I’ve entered. Other than an occasional intense desire to eat a bucket of oats, I feel great.”

I spoke with a couple race directors, and both said they were more than happy with Todd running in their races. When I asked why Todd could enter, but not other GMR’s, one replied, “It’s because Todd’s such a nice guy. He’s an exception to the exception.”