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Ultramarathon runner explains ‘massive error’ after being disqualified for using a car

Joasia Zakrzewski’s data tracking exposed her ‘unsporting’ advantage over her fellow competitors

Sports Staff
Wednesday 19 April 2023 13:29 BST
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Joasia Zakrzewski (Scotland) running the women’s marathon at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014
Joasia Zakrzewski (Scotland) running the women’s marathon at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 (Alamy)

A Scottish runner has been disqualified after using a car to complete part of the race in which she finished third.

The ultra-marathon run showed data to confirm Joasia Zakrzewski used a car for 4km, the race director said, with the 47-year-old conceding it was a “massive error”.

The data from the tracking system at the GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool 80km race on April 7 confirmed that Zakrzewski, who represented Scotland in the marathon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, gained an “unsporting competitive advantage during a section of the event,” according to race director Wayne Drinkwater.

He told the BBC: "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."

Zakrzewski clarified the situation, insisting she was “tired and jetlagged and felt sick” and accepted a lift after suffering an injury to her leg.

“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’,” Dr Zakrzewski said, who was convinced to not drop out by a marshal.

“I agreed to carry on in a non-competitive way. 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.”

“I made a massive error accepting the trophy and should have handed it back. I hold my hands up, I should have handed them back and not had pictures done but I was feeling unwell and spaced out and not thinking clearly.

“I’m an idiot and want to apologise to Mel [Sykes who was later promoted to third place]. It wasn’t malicious, it was miscommunication.

“I would never purposefully cheat and this was not a target race, but I don’t want to make excuses. Mel didn’t get the glory at the finish and I’m really sorry she didn’t get that.”

Zakrzewski’s friend defended her actions after a long haul trip from Australia the night before the race.

"She has cooperated fully with the race organisers' investigations, giving them a full account of what happened," said Adrian Stott.

"She genuinely feels sorry for any upset caused."

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