Tracking data from a running app has tripped up a Scottish ultrarunner, after it revealed a 2.5 mile anomaly during a high-profile race.
Dr Joasia Zakrzewski, a record-breaking athlete who frequently runs races of hundreds of miles, finished third in the 2023 GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool 50-mile race earlier this month, just weeks after winning a 48-hour race in Taipei across 255 miles.
However, thanks to data uploaded to Strava, a running and cycling app, it was later discovered she had used a car for a 2.5 mile stretch of the race.
The 47-year-old has since been stripped of the result, with the case referred to UK Athletics.
Speaking to the BBC, a friend said she had been poorly after arriving into the UK only hours earlier from Australia, and wanted to apologise for what she did.
Adrian Stott said: “The race didn’t go to plan. She said she was feeling sick and tired in the race and wanted to drop out,” he said.
“She has cooperated fully with the race organisers’ investigations, giving them a full account of what happened.”
Race director Wayne Drinkwater, said he was given information that a runner had 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.”
Third place was handed to Mel Sykes, who tweeted about the incident, saying: “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?!
“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!!”
She added: “Racing is racing. No matter who you are and how much you’ve prepared, things go wrong on race day. Suck it up. Take it on the chin. Move on to the next one. Being a cheat is not OK.”
Dr Zakrzewski works as a GP in Dumfries, and has raced for Scotland and Great Britain in various championships – including the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
She also won a 24-hour race in Australia in 2020 after running more than 236km (146 miles), and has previously set national records for 200km and 100 miles races.
Sky News has contacted Dr Zakrzewski for further comment.