The runner promoted to third place in a recent 50-mile ultra has hit out at her fellow competitor who was disqualified after being found to have “taken vehicle transport during part of the route”.
The BBC reported that top Scottish ultra-runner Joasia Zakrzewski originally finished third in the 2023 GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool 50-mile race held on 7th April – but is thought to have travelled by car for 2.5 miles and was subsequently removed from the results.
They quoted Wayne Drinkwater, the director of the GB Ultras event, who said that he had received information that a runner had gained an “unsporting, competitive advantage during a section of the event”.
He told the BBC: “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 added: “The matter is now with the Trail Running Association [who provide a licence for the race] and, in turn, UK Athletics (UKA) as the regulatory bodies.”
Zakrzewski, a 47-year-old GP from Dumfries, has had a stellar running career which includes representing Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as well as a host of ultra-running records, most recently a mark of 255 miles when winning outright the 48-hour Taipei Ultramarathon in Taiwan in February, though that was beaten last month by American star Camille Herron.
Zakrzewski’s disqualification meant that third place in the Manchester to Liverpool ultra was awarded to Mel Sykes – and she didn’t hold back on Twitter when she heard the news.
As well as the tweet below, Sykes also posted: “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 3rd place trophy is being returned to them, then will be posted out to me.
Skyes added: “The sad thing in all this is that it completely takes the p*** 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?!
Detail in the data
“For all the over analysing of data we do these days, it’s also a bloody great tool for situations like this. You have to be superwoman to be running 1:40min/miles at 90bpm with zero cadence. The audacity of uploading the data, complete with trophy photo, makes this worse!!
“The actual balls on her to finish the race and accept the trophy and stand there having the photos taken though. How would you dare?
While the DQ has now taken place it remains to be seen what further details emerge. The Strava file above for example suggests Zakrzewski ran closer to 54 miles rather than the race distance of 50.
‘She genuinely feels sorry for any upset caused’
And speaking to the BBC, Adrian Stott, described as a running friend who has been in contact with Ms Zakrzewski since the event, pointed out that she had arrived the night before the race after travelling for 48 hours from Australia.
He is quoted as saying: “The race didn’t go to plan. She said she was feeling sick and tired on the race and wanted to drop out.
“She has cooperated fully with the race organisers’ investigations, giving them a full account of what happened.
“She genuinely feels sorry for any upset caused.”
A total of 349 competitors completed the event according to the official race results.
We will continue to reach out to relevant parties and update this story.