British Ultramarathoner Banned For 12 Months For Using A Car During A Race
Many athletes have the drive to succeed. But would they actually drive to succeed?
This is what British ultramarathoner Joasia Zakrzewski has been found guilty of doing, having travelled a portion of the GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool 50-mile race on 7 April by car.
Tracking information after the race showed that Zakrzewski covered approximately 2.5 miles of the course in her friend’s car, with one of those miles taking just one minute and 40 seconds to complete. (No elite training regime or carbon plated shoe could ever help a human to achieve that on foot.)
Despite this vehicular assistance, she still went on to accept the trophy for third place at the end of the race.
As a result, 47-year-old Zakrzewski – a GP from Dumfries, Scotland, and an established and decorated ultra athlete – was penalised by a disciplinary panel for breaching the UKA code of conduct. The fine? A year-long ban from competing in UKA-licensed races, representing Great Britain and coaching or managing any other athletes.
Why did Zakrzewski do this?
Speaking after the event, Zakrzewski claimed she only used a car on the course after telling marshalls that she was injured and no longer taking part in the race competitively. (The marshalls, by contrast, said she did not voluntarily inform them that she was completing part of the course in a car, and only admitted she had done so when challenged by the race organiser.)
Zakrzewski – who now lives near Sydney – also said that arriving in the UK from Australia only the night before the race had muddled her thinking, which is why she went on to wrongly accept the third-place prize at the end of the 50-mile challenge.
The UKA disciplinary panel rejected this explanation, pointing out that Zakrzewski had a chance to repair the damage done. The panel said: “Even if she was suffering from brain fog on the day of the race, she had a week following the race to realise her actions and return the trophy, which she did not do.
“Finally, she posted about the race on social media, and this did not disclose that she had completed the race on a non-competitive basis.
Who is Joasia Zakrzewski?
The UKA ban is quite a dent for Zakrzewski, who up to this point has achieved great things in the ultramarathon domain.
For starters, she has set the Scottish 24-hour, the Scottish 100 mile and the British 200km records, among others. And in February this year, she won and set a then-world record distance of 255 miles (411.5km) at the 48-hour Taipei Ultramarathon in Tawain, which is no mean feat.
Other achievements include winning and covering almost 237km at a 24-hour race in Australia, and placing 14th in the 2014 Commonwealth Games marathon in Glasgow while representing Team Scotland.
Can Zakrzewski get past the car controversy and return to an ultramarathon podium (legitimately) in a year or more to come?
Image credit: Alamy