SUNDERLAND, England – A runner who finished third in a northern England marathon has admitted cheating by jumping on a bus with several miles to go, the Sunderland Echo reported Tuesday.
Rob Sloan was spotted by a number of people catching a free ride at about the 20-mile mark of the Kielder Marathon in Northumberland on Sunday before disembarking just before the finish, hiding behind a tree and rejoining the race.
The 31-year-old former army mechanic from Downhill, Sunderland, initially denied cheating when confronted by bemused fellow competitors, but has since been disqualified after owning up to his shortcut.
A statement from the organizers Monday said, "Last night we confirmed that 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."
Event director Steve Cram said, "Mr. Sloan made a mistake and has apologized to us for the confusion it has caused."
The runner who thought he had finished third, Steven Cairns, of Peebles, Scotland, said he was stunned to be told he had finished fourth behind Sloan.
Cairns told the Daily Mail, "I approached a race marshal and said, 'Fourth? Who was third?' He pointed to this guy Rob Sloan who was being interviewed by ITV local news. I listened to the interview. He was saying how good a race he had run and how he couldn't have given any more. When the interview was over I asked him if he had finished third and he said 'yes.'
"I then asked him where he had passed me and he said he'd done so after the 15-mile mark, which was impossible because at the point I had opened up a five-minute gap. He didn't say anything. He just turned away and walked off."
Cairns has since been awarded third place.