Married pair are 'truly sorry' for 'cheating' the London Marathon

EXCLUSIVE: Married couple say they are ‘truly sorry’ for ‘cheating’ the London Marathon by running it with the SAME number on their vests

  •  Monika Czarnecka and her husband Piotr were photographed running together
  •  Ms Czarnecka registered to run in the race and Mr Piotr reproduced her number 
  •  The couple, from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, finished in 21,697th place 

A husband and wife have been accused of cheating the London Marathon after they ran the course wearing the same registration number on their vests.

Monika Czarnecka, 41 and her husband Piotr, 42 were photographed running together on the gruelling course, prompting organisers to launch an investigation as the couple faced a social media backlash for cheating.

It later emerged that only Ms Czarnecka was registered to run in the race with Piotr admitting to MailOnline that he had reproduced her number so that he could accompany his wife for ‘moral support.’

Over 80,000 people entered last Sunday’s race and Mrs Czarnecka, from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, finished in 21,697th place in a time of 4hrs 40 mins and 58 seconds.

Monika Czarnecka, 41 and her husband Piotr, 42, have been accused of cheating the London Marathon after they ran the course wearing the same registration number on their vest

Organisers launched an investigation after the couple were photographed running together on the gruelling course

The pair initially logged their marathon time on the Strava running app, which they later deleted

Fighting back the tears, Ms Czarnecka sobbed to MailOnline: ‘I’m truly sorry for what we’ve done and didn’t want to cause any harm. The supporters were amazing, and their cheering and clapping helped me finish the marathon and it hurts to think that I’ve let them down.

‘This was my first marathon and I needed Piotr’s support because I was worried sick that I wouldn’t be able to finish it.’

Piotr, 42 added: ‘It was all my idea and I take full responsibility for it. I know it’s wrong and I’m truly sorry, but I did what I did to support my wife.’

He admitted that he was unable to secure a place in the London Marathon himself after missing out on the ballot.

Registration numbers are distributed to runners days ahead of the race, which gave Piotr enough time to reproduce the 11250 number that had been issued to his wife.

But they were detected by eagle eyed members of the running community who widely circulated pictures of them running alongside each other, including one of them crossing the finishing line together.

A London Marathon spokesperson confirmed: ‘We are aware of the images that show two runners wearing identical numbers and we are investigating. We take any incident where a participant cheats or forges numbers extremely seriously.’

The couple initially logged their marathon time on the Strava running app, which they later deleted.

One furious Twitter user wrote: ‘She’s suddenly got awfully shy on Strava when I mentioned this photo and all the others and suggested she hand back her medal.’

Another tweeted: ‘I’ve had 9 rejections in 9 years. This kind of thing is incredibly frustrating. Next year is my last chance. I’m not holding out any hope.’

Only Ms Czarnecka was registered to run in the race with Mr Piotr admitting hat he had reproduced her number

Mr Piotr (pictured with his wife) admitted that he was unable to secure a place in the London Marathon himself

Other Twitter users were enraged by the couple’s con when charities have to pay for their places in the starting line-up.

Run Hammer11 wrote: ‘It’s not fair if we are paying around £200 for a charity place, stressing raising £2k, and you get virtuals or fakes on course really.’

The couple are not the first to have been accused of cheating at the London Marathon.

In 2014, an investigation was launched after Jason Scotland-Williams ran the first half of the race in two hours seven minutes, a normal time for an amateur athlete but then did the second half in an astonishing one hour one minute — faster than Mo Farah and just two minutes slower than the world record for a half-marathon.

Dubbed the ‘faux Farah,’ he was accused of jumping over a barrier to cut nearly ten miles off the course.

Mr Scotland-Williams has continued to deny allegations of cheating.

In 2018, five runners were found to have outpaced Olympic champion Mo Farah on parts of the route as it later emerged that they had missed a third of the 26.2-mile course,

One runner, Rory O’Connor, from Ireland, raised £2,000 for the London Community Foundation charity, appeared to have run 8.6 miles in just 15 minutes – nearly as fast as a tiger.

He said he was unaware of any problem and initially insisted that he ran ‘every step’ of the marathon.

Another woman who appeared to have reached speeds of 27mpg on sections — nearly twice Mo Farah’s top speed.

That same year, a homeless man pretended to finish the London Marathon after finding a registration number on the ground.

Stanislaw Skupian, 38, was pictured with a finisher’s medal at the end of the 26.2-mile challenge but he had only been in the race for about three miles after picking Jake Halliday’s lost number.

More than 80,000 people entered last Sunday’s race and Mrs Czarnecka, from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, finished in 21,697th place

In 2016, Natasha Argent returned her winner’s medal while her running time was wiped clean from London Marathon records.

The Only Way is Essex star found herself in hot water after race organisers found that she was registered as missing checkpoints 13 – 23 along the route. She later claimed that a panic attack resulted in her having to leave the race and that she was ‘genuinely lost.’

Speaking to MailOnline from their Buckinghamshire home, Ms Czarnecka revealed that a ‘lynch mob’ from the running community was now out to get her and Piotr and that she had been inundated with hate messages.

She said: ‘We would not do it again. It’s as if a lynch mob is out to get us, it’s awful and has ruined my life. I just hope all this will be forgotten quickly.

‘When I finished the marathon, I was so happy, I could not believe that I had done it. Maybe I was selfish in wanting Piotr there alongside me, but I wanted to share the moment with my husband. I’m really sorry that all this has happened.’

The couple, who originate from Poland work in the transport industry and have two young sons, 3 and 6.

Piotr, who has run around 20 marathons, averaging times of around 3 hours 30 minutes said: ‘I didn’t collect a medal, I was just there to support Monika. The race was like a walk for me because my marathon times are a lot quicker.

‘I’ve run two London Marathons in the past so this one just gone was not about racing. It was all about my wife. People are behaving as if we’ve committed a serious crime and are treating us worse than athletes who’ve been caught for drug cheating.’

He added: ‘Monika has not cheated, she didn’t take anyone’s place and genuinely ran the race. It was me who did wrong because this was all my idea. But it was done in good faith.’

The couple also revealed that they are seriously reconsidering if they will run competitively again.

Monika said: ‘For the time being, we are not running. We had a lot of plans to enter other races but it’s a bit difficult to think about anything at the moment.’

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