London Marathon: I’m no cheat, says 'miracle' runner
Jason Scotland-Williams denies claims he "skipped" nine miles of the London marathon in order to secure a faster time than Mo Farah for the second half of the race
Published 20/04/2014 | 09:13
IT IS supposed to be a celebration of communal sporting endeavour, when amateur and professional runners unite, cheered on by thousands of spectators.
But the spirit of the London Marathon has been called into question after claims that one runner achieved a “miracle” time by skipping nine miles of the course and others, including a BBC newsreader, were wrongly accused of cheating by “jobsworth” officials.
On Saturday night Jason Scotland-Williams denied claims he jumped over a barrier midway through the race, allowing him to complete the second leg in less than half the time it took him to run the first.
The 34-year-old’s time for the latter half of the race fell three minutes shy of the world record for a half-marathon.
His overall result was twice as fast as his effort last year, earning him a place in the top 6 per cent of competitors, the Sun reported on Saturday. It prompted fellow runners to ask why he had not been “pulled up” by organisers over the apparent oddities.
At the other extreme, Sophie Raworth, a BBC newsreader, complained that in a “surreal moment” she was stopped by a race official around 400 yards from the finish and accused of having a “fake” number on her bib.
She made clear that she was a genuine competitor, but the unnamed female official appears to have persisted. Miss Raworth “had to push past her” in order to run the final stretch from Buckingham Palace to the finish, she said.
Mr Scotland-Williams does not appear to have received any such attention from officials. The time recorded for the second half of his run was one hour, one minute and 42 seconds — more than three minutes faster than the time achieved by Mo Farah, the double Olympic champion. His final time was 3:08:47, putting Mr Scotland-Williams in 2,162nd place.
A number of fellow runners have questioned Mr Scotland-Williams’s results on online forums dedicated to the sport. They claim that he must have jumped the barrier at the halfway point near Tower Bridge, where the course doubles back on itself. A waist-high barrier separates runners passing the 13-mile marker from those reaching the 22-mile point.
In one post on a blog that drew attention to Mr Scotland-Williams’s times, Darryl Morris wrote: “I saw Jason just after Tower Bridge and he was absolutely smashing it.”
He added: “Just noted the barrier skip … that would make complete sense as to why I saw him there, looking so fresh!”
Another comment read: “He must have jumped over the barrier where the course doubles back, only explanation.”
Mr Scotland-Williams, who lives in west London and works as a model, has run a number of marathons.
He was competing in last weekend’s race to raise money for Sense, a charity for deaf and blind people. He was pictured during the race wearing a Sense bib and a mask from the V for Vendetta film.
On Saturday night Mr Scotland-Williams denied the claims against him. Speaking at his home he said: “I have done nothing wrong. This was my sixth London marathon.
"I’m a personal trainer. I train every day, seven days a week, for the past seven years. Nobody thinks maybe I just trained hard. No one thinks 'maybe he paced himself through the first half and when the second half came he just let himself go’.”
He added: “All along the route are stewards and people watching. There’s no way you can cheat.”
Other runners have questioned why Miss Raworth, 45, was held up. She complained about the incident on Twitter, where Elliot Fineberg, a civil servant, said he had encountered a similar problem, delaying him by seven minutes.
Mr Fineberg said he was “gutted” at the hold-up, having trained for six months for his first marathon. He was challenged by two officials, he said, and was initially told by one that “she knew I was lying 'by the look in your eye’ ”.
“[I] tried to run by at first but she said they would get the police,” he wrote. The group “refused to leave” until they had “called someone to check my name and number”.
Another of Miss Raworth’s Twitter followers described the offending official as a “jobsworth” and congratulated her on her time of 3:48:02.
Virgin Money London Marathon said it was investigating Mr Scotland-Williams’s times.
A spokesman said: “We have anti-cheating measures during the event, and then post-event when we analyse split times from points around the course. Runners found to have cheated are removed from results and banned from future events.”
Four years ago it emerged that a runner thought to have recorded the fastest time for a pensioner in the London event had taken a 10-mile short cut.
Anthony Gaskell, 69, was stripped of his unofficial “fastest OAP” title after admitting that he took a short cut by Tower Bridge. An analysis of the second half of his race found that he would have had to have run it in under an hour. He claimed he only took a short cut because he was injured.
In 2011 another runner was disqualified from a marathon in Northumberland after covering the majority of the final six miles in a bus.
By Edward Malnick, Telegraph.co.uk