The Real Story Of Jailed Ultra Runner Charlie Engle

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Mar. 29, 2011
Charlie Engle is now serving a 21-month sentence for fraud. Photo: The New York Times

Charlie Engle is now serving a 21-month sentence for fraud. Photo: The New York Times

He wasn’t jailed for selling bad mortgages, but for illegally borrowing money.

Shortly after New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera wrote a column about the Justice Department choosing not to prosecute an executive from Countrywide Financial Corporation for his role in the recent financial crisis, he received an email from the father of now-jailed ultramarathoner Charlie Engle.

Engle had received a 21-month sentence for mortgage fraud and is now in a minimum security prison in Beaver, West Virginia.

Nocera notes that Engle’s case is unique in that he wasn’t jailed for selling bad mortgages; he was a borrower.

“It’s not just that Mr. Engle is the smallest of small fry that is bothersome about his prosecution,” writes Nocera. “It is also the way the government went about building its case.”

Once a drug addict, Engle eventually cleaned himself up and embraced the sport of long-distance running. In 2006, he two other ultra marathoners ran across the Sahara Desert–a feat that had never been done before.

His trek took 111 days and was documented in a film that was financed and produced by Matt Damon.

For More: The New York Times

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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