A Scottish ultramarathon runner was disqualified from a race after using a car on part of the marathon route before winning third place.
Joasia Zakrzewski admitted to making a “massive error” while accepting the trophy during the GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool 50-mile event on April 7, according to BBC Scotland.
The ultra-marathon runner, who also works as a doctor, stated that her actions were ‘not intentional’ and that she took the lift after she began limping near the halfway point of the 50-mile Manchester to Liverpool race.
Dr. Zakrzewski told BBC Scotland that she would not ‘purposefully cheat’ and that what happened was the result of miscommunication after she committed to run the event ‘non-competitively’.
The 47-year-old from Dumfries, Scotland, said she began to have leg pain throughout the race, which became so severe that when she encountered a friend, she opted to accept a lift to the next checkpoint to notify marshals that she was withdrawing out.
“When I got to the checkpoint I told them I was pulling out and that I had been in the car, and they said ‘You will hate yourself if you stop,’” Zakrzewski said.
“I agreed to carry on in a non-competitive way,” she added. “I made sure I didn’t overtake the runner in front when I saw her as I didn’t want to interfere with her race.”
When she got to the checkpoint, Dr. Zakrzewski claims she told event authorities she had been in the car and was dropping out, but they persuaded her to continue in a “non-competitive manner,” telling her, “You will hate yourself if you stop.”
When she finished the race, she received a medal, a trophy and posed for photographs, but she later admitted that this was a massive blunder’ and that she should have returned the honors.
Dr Zakrzewski, who now resides in Sydney, said she was ‘tired and jetlagged’ and ‘not thinking well’ after flying in from Australia the night before.
Only a few weeks ago, Dr. Zakrzewski broke the world record for the most miles run by a woman in 48 hours, but US runner Camille Herron has already surpassed her.
Dr. Zakrzewski went on to say she was ‘devastated’ by the criticism, with others calling for a lifetime ban for the athlete who represented Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The disqualification came after Wayne Drinkwater, the director of the GB Ultras race, got information that a competitor had earned an “unsporting, competitive advantage during a section of the event.”
He added: ‘The issue has been investigated and, having reviewed the data from our race tracking system, GPX data, statements provided from our event team, other competitors and from the participant herself, we can confirm that a runner has now been disqualified from the event having taken vehicle transport during part of the route.’
He said that a report had been made to the Trail Running Association, which provides the event’s license and is an associate member of UK Athletics.
‘I made a massive error accepting the trophy’
Race data uploaded to the sports app Strava by Dr. Zakrzewski and shared on Twitter by Mel Sykes, the runner who gave her third-place medal, allegedly revealed she ‘hadn’t taken the race route’. She also alleged that Dr. Zakrzewski’s performance metrics ‘didn’t add up’ in one section.
Zakrzewski holds several running records, including the Scottish 24-hour record, the British 200k record, and the Scottish 100-mile record.