A leading Scottish ultra-marathoner who was disqualified from a race for using a car apologized Wednesday and blamed jet lag and “miscommunication” for her decision to break the rules and accept an award for finishing in third place.
Joasia Zakrzewski is facing disciplinary action from U.K. Athletics for travelling 2.5 miles (4 kilometres) in a car during the GB Ultras Manchester to Liverpool race in northwest England on April 7.
The 47-year-old Zakrzewski told the BBC her leg began to feel sore near the halfway point of the 50-mile (80-kilometer) race and, after seeing a friend next to the course, accepted a ride in his car to the next checkpoint to tell marshals she was pulling out.
She said she agreed to carry on in what she described as a “non-competitive way” after the marshals told her she “will hate yourself if you stop.”
Zakrzewski said she was an “idiot” for accepting a medal and a wooden trophy for third place and then posing for pictures.
“I was tired and jet-lagged and felt sick,” Zakrzewski told the BBC. “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.”
She apologized to fellow runner Mel Sykes, who has since been awarded third place.
“I would never purposefully cheat and this was not a target race,” Zakrzewski said, “but I don’t want to make excuses.”
Wayne Drinkwater, the director of the GB Ultras race, said Zakrzewski’s conduct was “very disappointing” and the matter was with the Trail Running Association and U.K. Athletics.
An ultra-marathon is a race longer than a marathon.
Zakrzewski, a doctor from Dumfries in Scotland who now lives in Australia, has raced for Scotland and Britain in long-distance running events.