Cheating ultra-marathon runner caught using shortcuts

Cheating ultra-marathon runner caught using shortcuts
Photo: Maxmann, Pixabay

The organisers of a Western Australia 100km ultra-marathon race have outed a serial cheater who they claim took up to seven different shortcuts to overtake other runners. Mark Robson, the Perth marathon veteran, was disqualified for being caught by a timing transponder reading that was inconsistent.

Ron McGlinn, the Australia Day Ultra race director, produced a report with 7 pages of evidence outlining Robson’s cheating. Robson was confronted after finishing the Australind race just south of Perth and promptly left the area. According to McGlinn, Robson was heard saying “I am not going through this again”.

The ultra-marathon racers required to finish 8 laps of a 12.5km course. Robson’s transponder, which records times between checkpoints, only showed him running past the 6.25km turnaround checkpoint on the first of the 8 laps. It was estimated that Robson could having been saving 30-40km off his run by turning back earlier than other runners.

Other evidence included two different observers verifying that Robson had reached the 3.1km aid station but not the 6.25km checkpoint on his laps. Volunteers at the 6.25km checkpoint station were asked to watch out for Robson’s arrival but did not report him coming in.

Another competitor, who according to the transponder times should have been overtaken by Robson, could not recall Robson passing them. Another runner said that someone has seen Robson running behind them but gained a significant lead after the turnaround checkpoint.

This is also not the first time Robson has been caught cheating. Triathlon Australia reportedly suspended him for 2 years after an investigation found he was taking measures to gain an “unfair advantage” in a variety of events from 2011 to 2013.

The president of the Australia Ultra Runners Association, Rob Donkersloot, supported Robson’s disqualification and ban from upcoming events. He said that he had seen many thousands of participants over the years but never heard of any case of cheating like this.

Donkersloot said that it was unfortunate that the actions of one person could “paint a negative light” on an activity taken up by thousands of legitimate racers. He said that “Ultra running is an amazing test of endurance” and could not understand why someone would consider cheating.

This news comes after another competitor was banned and has his titles stripped from him after it was found he was hiding in a portable toilet to win races. The racer, Kelly Agnew, was disqualified at a fixed-time event after he was caught confirming laps without running the full course length.