Running, walking, limping and then crawling 26.2 miles is not for the feint-hearted, and those that choose to run the marathon dress as a postbox or in full diving gear deserve our respect and concern in equal measure.
The world of professional long-distance running can be incredibly competitive and cutthroat, and given the difficulty of the challenge it’s no surprise that plenty have decided to take the easy way out when ‘running’ a marathon – more on those shortly.
An ultra marathon takes things to the next level, with races contested over distances of 50 miles or even further – no wonder Joasia Zakrzewski decided to get a lift part way round the Manchester to Liverpool ultra-marathon!
The Scot was taking part in the GB Ultras series – one of the premier competitions for long long-distance running, and finished in a very creditable third place.
But an examination of her GPS data found that Zakrzewski had travelled one of the 50 miles in a time of just one minute 40 seconds, and she later admitted to cadging a lift for around 2.5 miles of the circuit.
Zakrzewski, who represented Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, later confessed to feeling ill during the race – hence her taking an alternative route to the finishing line this time.
The 47-year-old isn’t the first to have cheated during a marathon, and no doubt she won’t be the last either….
Four Wheels > Two Legs
Cheating in marathon running is so common that one man, Derek Murphy, has set up his own website – marathoninvestigation.com – to catch out those looking to cut more than just a corner from their race.
He’s particularly interested in those that fake their qualifying times in order to fraudulently secure a spot in prestigious races like the Boston Marathon, but tales of other cheats – particularly those who come up with ingenious ploys on race day – are plentiful.
Believe it or not, cheating in marathon running has been going on for more than a century – indeed, the ‘winner’ of the 1904 Olympic marathon race, Fred Lorz, is said to have been driven in a car for eleven miles of the contest.
One man from the north of England went one better than that. Rob Sloan had the gall to catch a bus part way the circuit at the Kielder Marathon in 2011 – enjoying a ride as long as five miles before jumping off and completing the race on foot. He was caught out by witnesses, had his bronze medal rescinded and was banned from the race indefinitely.
Straight to the End
Perhaps the easiest way to win a marathon is to jump out of the crowd, bedecked in a runner’s vest, shorts and trainers, and simply run the last mile of the race as fresh as a daisy.
But surely nobody would be as daft to try and get away with such a farcical idea? Rosie Ruiz did, and she almost got away with becoming the first marathon winner in history to cross the finishing line without breaking a sweat.
Ruiz won the 1980 Boston Marathon, and so committed was she to her ruse that she had to carried by race officials at the end as she feigned exhaustion.
Despite having an official entrant number, nobody could remember seeing Ruiz on the course – and the game was up a few days later when a witness came forward and said they had been stood in the crowd next to Ruiz about a mile away from the finishing line.
Faster Than Farah
Jason Scotland-Williams took part in the 2014 London Marathon and completed the first half of the race in two hours seven minutes – a respectable time for an amateur 34-year-old.
He then engaged warp speed, completing the second set of 13 miles in one hour one minute – faster than Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah.
It’s been suggested that Scotland-Williams leapt a barrier that separates the halfway point from the 22-mile mark, before popping up four miles from home having cut out a huge portion of the race.
That’s what 69-year-old Anthony Gaskell did in 2010 – ‘running’ the second half of his race at a world record pace having decided to skip around nine miles of it.
The man himself has always denied the charge, instead calling himself an ‘achiever’ and a ‘competitive person’.
We’ll let you decide on what you think really happened….
The Comrades Marathon in South Africa is contested over a 56-mile course in supremelty hot conditions – pushing the limits of even the best long-distance runners.
One way to make it somewhat easier would be to only run half….before handing over your bib to your twin brother to complete the circuit.
That was the plot dreamt up by Sergio and Fiko Motsoeneng, and they might just have gotten away with it had Sergio wore his watch on his left wrist (like Fiko had running the first half) instead of his right.
Sergio also has a lengthy scar on his shin – Fiko does not, and so race officials were able to confirm that they weren’t seeing double after all. The brothers later admitted they had swapped over their bib and running gear in an on-course toilet.