Top Ultrarunner Is Punished for Using Car During Race

Joasia Zakrzewski was reportedly feeling unwell, wanted to drop out
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2023 1:50 AM CDT
Updated Nov 19, 2023 10:54 AM CST
Top Ultrarunner Traveled by Car During Race
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / LeManna)
UPDATE Nov 16, 2023 8:13 AM CST

An ultramarathon runner who placed third in a 50-mile race in April—only to later admit she traveled in a car for part of it—has been handed a 12-month ban for breaching UK Athletics' (UKA) code of conduct for senior athletes. UKA announced Joasia Zakrzewski, who CNN reports has competed internationally for Scotland and Great Britain, will not be able to run in any UKA event or represent Great Britain elsewhere for that period, nor can she coach, officiate, or manage during that time. The panel noted Zakrzewski had competed "successfully at the highest level" and "also acted as team manager for the international team. As such the Respondent had a responsibility to uphold the rules, and this made it even more serious that she breached them, and did not correct this either when finishing the race or thereafter."

Apr 19, 2023 1:50 AM CDT

Joasia Zakrzewski is a top competitor in the sport of ultrarunning—she just won Taiwan's Taipei Ultramarathon in February—but at her most recent race, organizers had to disqualify her after she traveled a portion of the route by car. The 47-year-old initially was awarded third place in the 50-mile 2023 GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool, but third place in the April 7 event has now been awarded to Mel Sykes, the BBC reports.

"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," the director of the race says in a statement. Officials say GPX data showed her covering a mile of the route in just a minute and 40 seconds; she was ultimately discovered to have ridden in a car for 2.5 miles of the route.

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A friend says Zakrzewski, who is Scottish, had spent 48 hours traveling to Taiwan from Australia and had just arrived the night prior to the race. "The race didn't go to plan. She said she was feeling sick and tired on the race and wanted to drop out," he says. "She genuinely feels sorry for any upset caused." A report of the incident was submitted to the Trail Running Association and UK Athletics, the Sun reports. Zakrzewski has a number of other significant wins and records to her name. (More ultrarunning stories.)

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