An ultramarathon runner who used a car to help her finish third in a 50-mile race in England earlier this month was disqualified from the competition
An ultramarathon runner who used a car to help her finish third in a 50-mile race in England earlier this month was disqualified from the competition.
As reported by the BBC on Wednesday, Joasia Zakrzewski, 47, claimed that her acts were “not malicious” and that a misunderstanding was to blame for the incident. According to the news source, she stated that it was “massive error” for her to accept the third-place trophy.
On April 7, according to The Guardian, Zakrzewski was taking part in the 50-mile GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool event. As reported by USA Today, she drove 2.5 miles to get third in the race. Using mapping data, race officials calculated that Zakrzewski finished the mile in 1 minute, 40 seconds.
According to the newspaper , third place went to Mel Skyes.
“Great news for me but really bad news for sportsmanship,” Sykes stated on Twitter, according to The New York Times.
“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,” Wayne Drinkwater, the GB Ultras race director, told the BBC.
The runner told the news outlet that she got into the car to notify the race marshals of her withdrawal because she had been limping.
“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 stated. “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.”
According to the BBC, when Zakrzewski crossed the finish line, she was awarded a medal, a wooden trophy for third place, and posed for pictures.
“I was tired and jetlagged and felt sick,” said Zakrzewski, who revealed that she had arrived from Australia the evening before the race by plane. “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.”
“After the event, there was no attempt by Joasia to make us aware of what had happened and to give us an opportunity to correct the results or return the third-place trophy during the course of the subsequent seven days,” Drinkwater said to the BBC. “At the finish location, Joasia crossed the finish line timing mat, received her finisher medal and was presented with her trophy. At no point at the finish were the event team informed by Joasia that she was ‘not running the race competitively.’”
In February, Zakrzewski won the 48-hour Taipei Ultramarathon in Taiwan, breaking the previous record by 255 miles, according to the BBC. While representing the United Kingdom at the IAU World 100-kilometer Championships, she took home silver in 2011 and bronze in 2014 and 2015, according to the news source.
According to USA Today, Scottish Athletics chairman David Ovens expressed disappointment and expressed the hope that Zakrzewski would learn from her error.
“I hope she can put this behind her and that there is an innocent explanation, and she can resume her successful career,” said Ovens.
The Times reported that Rosie Ruiz, who joined the race a mile from the finish line and went on to win the 1980 Boston Marathon, was brought to mind by the episode.
The Smithsonian Magazine recognized American Fred Lorz completed the marathon race at the 1904 Games in St. Louis while riding in an automobile for more than 10 miles. The crowd applauded him as he crossed the finish line. Before he was caught as a phony, he was on the verge of receiving a gold medal. He later claimed that he had gotten inside the automobile as “a joke,” according to the magazine.
Now, Zakrzewski’s reputation has also suffered harm.
“I’m an idiot and want to apologize to Mel. It wasn’t malicious, it was miscommunication,” Zakrzewski said to the BBC. “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.”