The Kielder marathon in the North-East is one of the most picturesque marathons in the UK, and although highly competitive is hardly the place one would expect the antics of 32-year-old, Sunderland Harriers runner Rob Sloan in this year’s event.
Members of the public on their way to cheer on runners crossing the finish line were surprised to see, the driver of the bus they were on, pull over for a muddied man shouting on the side of the road.
A day earlier Sloan had won the 10km race and below he proudly shows off his medal.
After bursting out the gates Sloan dropped back to tenth but astonished runners by finishing third without any of the runners he seemingly passed, noticing he did so.
A passenger on the bus, Scott Boylan, told BBC’s Inside Out programme: “We were on the bus taking us up to the finish line and we saw some guy running by the side of the bus trying to flag the bus down so the driver pulled over and this guy gets on soaking wet and covered in mud with a marathon vest on and we joked that's the way to finish a marathon - to catch a bus.”
Whereas the director of the race, former World Champion, Steve Cram is clearly left frustrated by Sloan’s behaviour, particularly his changes of heart with regards to admission of his misdemeanours:
“I'm a bit sick and tired of him denying it now. We did give him the option early on when he did actually admit it to us on the phone and we prepared a statement which was basically saying he'd made a mistake and he'd apologised and we were happy with that. People do this in all marathons but the vast majority don't come in the top three”
Sloan then ran the marathon equivalent on the BBC’s treadmill and finished with a time of 3hrs 7mins, more than quarter of an hour longer than the 2hrs 51mins time in October, which startled race officials. Although it is difficult to read too much into this as the differences between a treadmill and a real marathon are obvious.
An embarassed Kevin Carr, the chairman of Sunderland Harriers, said: ‘It’s blatant cheating as far as I’m concerned and as a club we’re going to come down really hard on him.
Assuming he did cheat, Sloan would do well to learn from the determination of 27 year-old Amber Miller who earlier this year completed the Chicago marathon then gave birth soon after after.
39- week pregnant Miller, described the experience as ‘nothing out of the ordinary’ at claimed to eat a sandwich as the contractions became stronger.
“Lots of people were cheering me on: 'Go pregnant lady'," she said.
"For me, it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. I was running up until that point anyway," she told Associated Press news agency.
"I am crazy about running."
Sources: BBC, The Guardian