Joasia Zakrzewsk: Scottish ultra-marathon runner admits to 'massive error' after being disqualified from race after using car

A Scottish ultra-marathon runner who was disqualified from a race – because she was found to have used a car – has admitted to making a “massive error”.

Joasia Zakrzewski, 47, from Dumfries, had finished third in the GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool race on April 7.

But she is believed to have travelled 2.5 miles in a car after mapping data found she covered a mile in one minute and 40 seconds.

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Dr Zakrzewski later said her actions were not malicious, but accepted she had made a “massive error” for accepting a trophy for third place.

Joasia Zakrzewsk: Scottish ultra-marathon runner disqualified from race after using carJoasia Zakrzewsk: Scottish ultra-marathon runner disqualified from race after using car
Joasia Zakrzewsk: Scottish ultra-marathon runner disqualified from race after using car

Recalling details of the race, the runner, who now lives in Sydney in Australia, said she had started to limp with injury after becoming lost midway around the course.

It was at this point, Dr Zakrzewski said, that she accepted a lift in a friend’s car to the next checkpoint where she claimed she told marshals she was pulling out of the race.

However, the competitor later posted for pictures and accepted a medal and trophy after crossing the finish line.

"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 told BBC Scotland.

"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."

Dr Zakrzewski added: "I made a massive error accepting the trophy and should have handed it back. I was tired and jetlagged and felt sick.

"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."

Third place has now been awarded to Mel Sykes.

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Dr Zakrzewski said: "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.”

Dr Zakrezewski is an accomplished athlete, having finished 14th in the 2014 Commonwealth Games marathon in Scotland.

She has set records in the UK over 100 and 200 miles, and won the Taipei Ultramarathon in Taiwan in February outright, finishing the 48-hour race outright in a world-record time across 255 miles.

Wayne Drinkwater, the director of the GB Ultras race, told the BBC it was "very disappointing".

"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.

"The matter is now with the TRA (Trail Running Association) and, in turn, UK Athletics (UKA) as the regulatory bodies."

Adrian Stott, a friend of the runner, stressed Dr Zakrzewski was "genuinely sorry" and had felt unwell before and during the race.

"She has co-operated fully with the race organisers' investigations, giving them a full account of what happened,” he said.



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