Hitchhiking One’s Way Through a Marathon

Joasia Zakrzewski is a top ultramarathoner.  For those not familiar with the sport, ultramarathoners run 50-miles in their races. In April 2023, during a 50-mile race from Manchester to Liverpool, Ms. Zakrzewski, picked up a ride from a friend for 2.5 miles of that race.  She finished third in the race and accepted the trophy.

However, honesty being what it is these days, race officials conduct post-race audits looking for time anomalies.  A post-race audit allows officials to check the times of the runners between checkpoints.  The audit showed that Ms. Zakrzewski finished one mile of the race in 1 minute and 40 seconds.  That’s a 100-second mile! Quit a clip!  When confronted, Ms. Zakrzewski admitted to accepting the ride and apologized for her mistake in accepting the third-place trophy.

Actually, the apology should have been for going cruising with a friend during an ultramarathon.  The Barometer would have tried to run a marathon had she known of the auto-buddy possibilities. Ms. Zakrzewski denied that she was trying to “cheat” or “conceal the fact that she had traveled in a car for part of the race.” One wonders how the friend happened to be toddling along marathoners that day.

The usual penalty for such a breach of the rules would be a two-year suspension from the sport.  However, Ms. Zakrzewski offered jet lag as a mitigating factor.  The officials of U.K. Athletics bought that defense hook, line, and sinker and gave her a one-year suspension.

The Barometer envisions criminal minds all over the world standing before judges with the jet-lag defense.  “Your honor, I took the red-eye from Paris to New York and the next thing I knew I was robbing a bank.”

Do these runners not know history?  Rosie Ruiz took the subway and won the Boston Marathon, temporarily, in 1980.  In the chutzpah department, Fred Lorz (and race auditors should focus on runners with  “Z’s” in their last names– somewhat of a pattern here) hitched an auto ride for 11 miles of his marathon in St. Louis in 1904. Of course, 1904 autos were not much faster than runners so it took awhile for his mechanical assistance to emerge.  He had a sort of Houston Astros attitude, “It really didn’t help that much.”

So, we are left with the ultimate question, “Then, why do it?”  Establishing intent is actually quite easy.

The sport changes, the decades are different, but the cheating mind works the same. And the sanctions are always light, for whatever reason.


Victor Mather, “Unhappy Hitchhiker:  A 100-Second Mile Leads to a British Ultramarathoner’s Ban,”  New York Times, November 19, 2023, p. A33.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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