Ultra-marathon racer caught cheating
ORGANISERS of a 100km ultra-marathon race in Western Australia have outed a serial cheat they say took seven shortcuts to overtake competitors.
Perth ultra veteran Mark Robson was disqualified after being caught out by a timing transponder which runners carry and record readings as they pass certain checkpoints.
Australia Day Ultra race director Ron McGlinn has compiled a seven-page report which provides evidence of Robson's misdeeds.
He was confronted after finishing the race in Australind, south of Perth, on January 20, and left the scene. "I am not going to go through this again," said Robson, according to race director McGlinn.
Competitors were required to complete eight laps of a 12.5km loop. Robson's transponder only recorded him passing the 6.25km turnaround point on the first of his eight laps.
Officials estimated he could have shaved around 30-40km by turning back early.
Other supporting information included:
TWO separate observers verified that Robson was reaching the 3.1km aid station
on race laps, however not reaching the 6.25km point.
VOLUNTEERS at the 6.25km aid station were asked to look for Robson coming
through the aid station to check his transponder. The volunteers did not witness Robson arriving or departing the aid station.
ONE competitor, who by the race results should have been overtaken by Robson,
could not recall being passed.
A RUNNER reported another competitor had seen Robson running behind him, and
then after the turnaround point noticed Robson was now significantly in front of
The Australian revealed this wasn't Robson's first offence. He was reportedly suspended for two years by Triathlon Australia in 2014 after an investigation found he had "engaged in deliberate and premeditated actions to gain an unfair advantage" in several events between 2011 and 2013.
Australian Ultra Runners Association president Rob Donkersloot backed the disqualification and ban from future events.
"Many thousands of athletes compete in ultra-running events throughout the country, and in my time involved with the sport I have not heard of a similar incident occurring in any other event in Australia," Donkersloot said.
"Unfortunately it is just one action by one individual that can potentially paint a negative light on a sport enjoyed by the thousands that compete legitimately.
"Ultra running is an amazing test of endurance, where at the end of the day the only goal is knowing you have achieved a super test of strength and resilience. I fail to understand how cheating assists achieve that objective."
It comes after another avid ultra-marathon competitor was banned and stripped of his titles after an investigation revealed he was hiding in a Port-a-Potty to win races.
Kelly Agnew, 45, was disqualified at Across the Years, a fixed-time event in Arizona, when he was spotted "registering laps without running the complete loop of the course," according to a Facebook post from race organisers.
The serial cheater has won the 48-hour race four times since his first medal in 2014 for running 201.5 miles in the 48-hour limit.
Officials said they were first suspicious of his performances after he won the 48-hour race by more than 55 miles in 2015 - even though he stopped running seven hours before it ended - and decided to track him during the multi-day looped course in Phoenix.
"He was witnessed circling back at the start/finish staging area after completing a lap, spending over 7 minutes in a portable rest room and then 'completing' the lap and going on for his next without actually running the mile plus loop," organisers said.
- with New York Post