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16 Nov, 2023 11:56

Runner banned for using car during race

A disciplinary panel has rejected Joasia Zakrzewski’s claims that she had become disoriented following a flight from Australia
Runner banned for using car during race

British ultra-marathon runner Joasia Zakrzewski has been issued with a 12-month suspension after she was found to have used a car for a section of a 50-mile (80-km) race earlier this year and accepted a trophy for finishing third, UK Athletics confirmed on Wednesday.

The 47-year-old admitted to the sport’s authorities that she had entered a friend’s car during the 2023 GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool race in April. In a letter to an investigatory panel, she claimed that she had used the vehicle only after informing marshals that she was withdrawing from the event due to injury and was participating on a non-competitive basis.

She added that she accepted a trophy for finishing in third place only because she was disoriented after having arrived on a flight from Australia the previous night.

“I accept my actions on the day that I did travel in a car and then later completed the run, crossing the finish line and inappropriately receiving a medal and trophy, which I did not return immediately as I should have done,” Zakrzewski wrote in a letter to the panel.

GPS evidence showed that Zakrzewski, who has competed internationally for British long distance athletics teams on numerous occasions and set a 48-hour world record in February, had traveled about 2.5 miles in a car – including one mile of the race which was covered in just one minute and 40 seconds.

However, in its written decision published on Wednesday UK Athletics said that Zakrzewski’s version of events were “contrary to the evidence of the marshals.”

Zakrzewski disclosed to officials the use of the car only after she had been directly challenged by race organizers, the UK Athletics judgement said, and that she “sought to defend herself by claiming she was embarrassed, but ultimately she chose not to disclose what had happened rather than embarrass herself.”

The disciplinary panel also wrote that it had taken Zakrzewski’s statement that she was suffering from “brain fog” into account but noted that she “had ample opportunity to remedy the situation which she failed to do.”

Originally from Dumfries in Scotland, Zakrzewski now lives in Sydney, Australia. She has set records throughout her career, including for the Scottish 24-hour, the British 200-kilometer and the Scottish 100-mile categories.