Woman who lost marathon to ultrarunner who used car to cheat says she 'took the p**s'
| Last updated
An ultrarunner who was disqualified after it was revealed she’d hopped into a car for a portion of a recent run has been criticised by a rival, who narrowly missed out on third place.
Dr Joasia Zakrzewski came third in the 50-mile race from Manchester to Liverpool, but was accused of cheating after data from Strava showed a 2.5 mile stretch of the race where she hadn't been on route.
The data showed that she had been travelling at a pace of a mile every 1 minute 40 seconds without any steps being registered and while somehow maintaining a heart rate of 94bpm.
After her disqualification, third place was awarded to Mel Sykes, who has since taken to Twitter to share her thoughts on the whole thing.
“Great news for me but really bad news for sportsmanship,' she wrote, kicking off a series of tweets.
“The below happened because a fellow competitor cheated. After an investigation, she has now been DQ’d [disqualified], and rightly so.
“No race director wants this to happen at one of their events and the team at GB Ultras have been fantastic at carrying out their investigation.
“The sad thing in all this is that it completely takes the p**s out of the race organisers, fellow competitors and fair sport.
“How can someone who knows they have cheated cross a finish line, collect a medal/trophy and have their photos taken!”
Zakrzewski has herself admitted that it had been 'a massive error' in accepting the third place trophy and said she should have handed it back.
She said: "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. 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. I've given so much to the running world so I am devastated this has happened."
The 47-year-old claimed that she'd taken the lift after she'd 'become lost on the course' about halfway through the race and had 'started to limp'.
She said she saw a friend and 'accepted a lift in his car' so she could make it to the next checkpoint and tell race officials that she was dropping out of the race.
The runner then claimed she decided to carry on running the race, but in a ‘non-competitive way’ and says she even stopped herself from overtaking the runner in front so as to avoid causing disruption.
However, race organisers have denied that Zakrzewski told officials she was dropping out or had taken a lift in a car.
In a statement, race director Wayne Drinkwater said: "To re-affirm, none of our event team in question, with written statements to confirm this, were aware that Joasia had vehicle transport at any time during the race until we received information after the race from another competitor.
"If we had been made aware during the race, disqualification from the race would have been immediate at that point."