Rob Sloan claimed third place in
the Kielder Marathon after completing the 26.2 mile course in an impressive
time of 2:51:00.But suspicions were raised by fellow runners bemused that they
had not seen Sloan pass them during Sunday’s race.
After initially denying any
wrongdoing, Sloan admitted to hopping onto a bus at the 20-mile mark because he
was feeling tired. He then re-emerged from a wooded area of the course and
picked up the bronze medal. Witnesses reported seeing him hide behind a tree
until the first and second placed runners went past, then rejoining the race
The 31-year-old now faces
dismissal from his club, Sunderland Harriers, and could be banned from taking
part in future marathons.Steve Cram, the former world record holder and
organiser of the race in Kielder Water, Northumberland, said: “He was the only
runner in the whole of the race who ran the second half quicker than the first
Sloan, a former Army mechanic from
Downhill, Sunderland, was seen boasting to reporters minutes after completing
the event. He described the race as “absolutely, unbelievably tough”.When his
placing was brought into doubt, he was indignant. “I’m upset and angry that
someone wants to cast these aspersions. It’s laughable, is what it is,” he
However, after organizers launched
an investigation, he confessed to hitching a ride.The bus was one of 12 laid on
to ferry spectators around the lakeside course, which has been dubbed
“Britain’s most beautiful marathon”.
A statement from the organisers
said: “The athlete who was disqualified on Sunday after initially placing third
has admitted that he failed to complete the whole course of 26.2 miles.
“Rob Sloan of Sunderland Harriers
had apparently made the decision to withdraw from the race at approximately 20
miles due to fatigue and after returning to the Leaplish Park area he decided
to run the closing section of the course and crossed the finish line in third
“This was rightly questioned by
several witnesses including the rightful third place finisher, Steven Cairns of
Peebles, Scotland, who has been awarded the prize.”
Sloan won a 10k race on Saturday
and that result appears to hold firm.
He joined Sunderland Harriers a
few months ago. Ann Lillie, club treasurer and vice-president, said: “It’s a
bit of a shock. We have a good reputation and obviously this has brought the
club into disrepute.
“It’s not the kind of advertising
we need. We’ll be discussing Rob’s future when the executive committee meets
The runner later awarded the
bronze medal, Steven Cairns, was one of those who shared their suspicions with
Writing on Facebook, he said: “I
was third the whole way but somehow I crossed the line and was given fourth! He
has stolen my glory and my moment on the podium.
“I started to doubt myself as he
was adamant he had gone past me. I could understand him taking the goody bag
and the t-shirt but to do the press interview claiming he was third…”
In 2009, Anthony Gaskell, 69,
became the fastest pensioner to run the London Marathon when he finished in a
record three hours and five minutes.
However, it emerged later that he
took a short cut that knocked 10 miles off the course and his name was removed
from the results.