Jo Zakrzewski Banned for One Year After Using Car in Ultramarathon

Ultrarunner Jo Zakrzewski has received a one-year sanction from the governing body UK Athletics.

By and on November 15, 2023 | Comments

A conclusion comes to the story that made mainstream headlines earlier this year, where Jo Zakrzewski was disqualified from the 2023 Manchester To Liverpool Ultra 50 Mile ultramarathon after riding in a car for a few miles of the race.

Zakrzewski will serve a one-year ban from racing events sanctioned by UK Athletics, the United Kingdom’s governing body for athletics, as well as coaching.

Jo Zakrzewski - 2015 IAU 100k World Championships

File photo of Jo Zakrzewski running at the 2015 IAU 100k World Championships. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

After its April 2023 disqualification of Zakrzewski, GB Ultras, the organization behind the Manchester To Liverpool Ultra 50 Mile, released a statement that it was turning the case over to UK Athletics for further investigation.

On November 10, 2023, UK Athletics released its ruling and found that Zakrzewski had breached the Code of Conduct for Senior Athletes by failing to “participate within the rules of the sport, respect decisions of coaches and officials, and demonstrate respect towards fellow athletes” as well as failing to “act ethically, professionally and with integrity, and take responsibility for her actions.”

Zakrzewski, a Scottish ultrarunner, is probably best known for setting a then world record by running 255.7 miles (411.5 kilometers) in 48 hours in February of 2023. She has also been a member of Team Great Britain for multiple IAU 100k World Championships as well as a team manager for the event, while having been named Scottish Athletics Masters Athlete of the Year in 2020.

After the incident in April, Zakrzewski told “BBC Scotland,” the only news source we believe Zakrzewski spoke to post-race, that she’d only flown to the United Kingdom from Australia the night before the Manchester to Liverpool Ultra 50 Mile, which led to the jetlag that she says contributed to her poor decision to get into a car in the middle of the 50-mile race, get back out, and cross the finish line in a competitive manner.

According to the UK Athletics ruling, Zakrzewski told the governing body that injury caused her to climb into a friend’s car during the event, and when she’d gotten out to tell the marshals that she was injured and was withdrawing from the race, they encouraged her to continue in a non-competitive basis, which she did.

The UK Athletics ruling states that marshals claim that she never told them that she’d ridden in a car for part of the course, and when given the opportunity to contest the marshals’ evidence, she declined to do so.

Jo Zakrzewski UK Athletics Sanction

Excerpt of U.K. Athletics written decision sanctioning Jo Zakrzewski.

After finishing the event, explains the UK Athletics ruling, Zakrzewski went on to accept the trophy for her finish and posted about the race on social media, never mentioning the ride in the car. While Zakrzewski claimed that she never intended to cheat, she also never denied her actions, saying in a letter to UK Athletics that is quoted in the ruling, “As stated, I accept my actions on the day that I did travel in a car and then later completed the run, crossing the finish line and inappropriately receiving a medal and trophy, which I did not return immediately as I should have done.”

Still, UK Athletics pointed out in its ruling that she had a week after the race to rethink her actions and return the trophy and didn’t. And on that basis, they found her in breach of the Code of Conduct for Senior Athletes. While the suspension for the breach would normally be two years, it was reduced to one year due to Zakrzewski being “subjected to a trial by social media” and cooperating fully with the investigation. The governing body also cited that she’d “previously had a clear and impeccable record.”

Jo Zakrzewski - 2023 Taipei Ultramarathon - 48 hour world record

Jo Zakrzewski on her way to setting a then 48-hour world record at the Taipei Ultramarathon earlier in 2023. Photo: Chinese Taipei Association of Ultrarunners

[Editor’s Note: We empathize with the sensitive nature of this topic, and wish to help host a productive community conversation about it. Thus, we respectfully request you to follow iRunFar’s comment policy. Disagreement and debate are always welcome, so long as you share your thoughts constructively.]

Meghan Hicks

Meghan Hicks is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar. She’s been running since she was 13 years old, and writing and editing about the sport for around 15 years. She served as iRunFar’s Managing Editor from 2013 through mid-2023, when she stepped into the role of Editor-in-Chief. Aside from iRunFar, Meghan has worked in communications and education in several of America’s national parks, was a contributing editor for Trail Runner magazine, and served as a columnist at Marathon & Beyond. She’s the co-author of Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running with Bryon Powell. She won the 2013 Marathon des Sables, finished on the podium of the Hardrock 100 Mile in 2021, and has previously set fastest known times on the Nolan’s 14 mountain running route in 2016 and 2020. Based part-time in Moab, Utah and Silverton, Colorado, Meghan also enjoys reading, biking, backpacking, and watching sunsets.

Meghan Hicks

Eszter Horanyi identifies as a Runner Under Duress, in that she’ll run if it gets her deep into the mountains or canyons faster than walking would, but she’ll most likely complain about it. A retired long-distance bike racer, she gave ultra foot racing a go and finished the Ouray 100 in 2017, but ultimately decided that she prefers a slower pace of life of taking photos during long days in the mountains and smelling the flowers while being outside for as many hours of the day as possible. Eszter will take any opportunity to go adventuring in the mountains or desert by foot, bike, or boat, and has lived the digital nomad lifestyle throughout the west for the past seven years.