Scottish ultramarathon runner Joasia Zakrzewski has been disqualified for using a car during a race in Manchester earlier this month.
Zakrzewski was caught after GPS data showed her covering a mile faster than humanly possible.
The 47-year-old runner finished in third place at this year’s GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool race on April 7. However, GB Ultras director Wayne Drinkwater told the BBC on Tuesday that he subsequently discovered she had gained an “unsporting, competitive advantage during a section of the event.”
Drinkwater said that race organizers received a tip suggesting Zakrzewski had cheated, and upon reviewing GPS tracking data, discovered that she had “taken vehicle transport” for 2.5 miles (4km) of the 50-mile (80km) route.
The data showed Zakrzewski covering a mile in a minute and 40 seconds. One of the runner’s friends told the BBC that she feels “genuinely sorry” for cheating, and did so because “the race didn’t go according to plan,” and she “was feeling sick and tired and wanted to drop out.”
Zakrzewski is an accomplished runner, and won the 48-hour race at the Taipei Ultramarathon in Taiwan in February, covering a world-record 255 miles (412km) across the two days. She won a silver medal for Great Britain at the IAU World 100km championships in the Netherlands in 2011, and took bronze in both Qatar in 2014 and again in the Netherlands in 2015.
She currently holds the Scottish 24-hour record, the British 200k record, and the Scottish 100 miles record.
Drinkwater told the BBC that Zakrzewski’s incident has been referred to the Trail Running Association and UK Athletics for further investigation.
Zakrzewski is not the first distance runner to use internal combustion to her advantage. Frederick Lorz, the winner of the marathon at the 1904 Olympic Games, was disqualified after it emerged that his manager drove him for the final 11 miles of the race.
In 1979, Rosie Ruiz had her New York City Marathon gold medal revoked after it was discovered that she rode the city’s subway for most of the race and only ran the last 800 meters.