Joasia Zakrzewski: GB runner who used car to drive part of 50-mile ultra breaks her silence after claiming 3rd place | The Sun

THE top British runner who used a car to drive part of a 50-mile ultra has broken her silence after being disqualified.

Joasia Zakrzewski, 47, finished third in the 2023 GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool race – after travelling in a vehicle for 2.5 miles.

Dr Zakrzewski, from Dumfries, was tracked via GPX mapping data covering a mile of the race in just one minute 40 seconds.

She was caught when the tracking data showed she had reached a "super-human" speed of 35mph – far faster than Olympic champion Usain Bolt at his peak.

The 47-year-old has today spoken out, claiming her actions were "not malicious" and she made a "massive error".

Dr Zakrzewski had arrived from Australia the night before the race and said she had become lost on the course around the half-way mark.

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It was then that her leg began to feel ache and she started to limp – and suddenly she spotted a pal.

The runner told BBC: "When I got to the checkpoint I told them I was pulling out and that I had been in the car, and they said 'you will hate yourself if you stop'.

"I agreed to carry on in a non-competitive way.

"I made sure I didn't overtake the runner in front when I saw her as I didn't want to interfere with her race."

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Top GB runner disqualified for using a CAR before finishing 3rd in 50-mile race

After claiming third place prize with a time of seven hours and 25 minutes, Dr Zakrzewski then posed for pictures with her medal.

Reflecting today, she said: "I made a massive error accepting the trophy and should have handed it back.

"I was tired and jetlagged and felt sick.

"I hold my hands up, I should have handed them back and not had pictures done but I was feeling unwell and spaced out and not thinking clearly."

The director of the GB Ultras race Wayne Drinkwater said he had received information after the ultramarathon that a runner had gained an “unsporting, competitive advantage during a section of the event”.

He said: "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 a report of the disqualification had been submitted to the Trail Running Association, which provides the licence for the event and is an associated member of UK Athletics.

He said: "The matter is now with the TRA and, in turn, UK Athletics (UKA) as the regulatory bodies.”

Third place in the race, which was on April 7, has now been given to Mel Sykes.

Ms Sykes, an NHS podiatrist, took to Twitter to brand her race rival as a "cheat".

I made a massive error accepting the trophy and should have handed it back.

She said: "The sad thing in all this is that it completely takes the p**s 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?!"

Speaking today, Dr Zakrzewski said: "I'm an idiot and want to apologise to Mel. It wasn't malicious, it was miscommunication.

"I would never purposefully cheat and this was not a target race, but I don't want to make excuses.

"Mel didn't get the glory at the finish and I'm really sorry she didn't get that."

Ms Zakrzewski has an impressive record competing in ultramarathons.

In February this year she set a new world record by running 255 miles in 48 hours at the Taipei Ultramarathon in Taiwan.

Taking part in the IAU World 100km Championships for Great Britain, she won the individual silver in 2011 and bronze in 2014 and 2015.

She also represented Team Scotland at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games where she took part in the marathon event.

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She won a 24-hour event held in Australia in 2020 covering a distance of 236.561km.

Dr Zakrzewski also holds number of other records, including the Scottish 24-hour record, the British 200k and the Scottish 100 miles record.

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