A married couple have apologised after ‘cheating’ at this year’s London Marathon.
Monika Czarnecka and her husband Piotr were seen running the iconic 26.2 mile course together while wearing the same number (11250).
It was subsequently found that only Monika was registered for the event last Sunday on 3 October, with Piotr producing a fake race number in order to accompany her along the route to offer “moral support”.
The game was up after both runners posted their efforts on Strava before later deleting the entries.
The couple finished in 21,697th place in a time of 4:40:58 with Monika, from Buckinghamshire, telling the Mail: “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.”
While Piotr moved to accept full responsibility, adding: “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.”
A total of around 40,000 runners ran in the capital to The Mall, with a further 40,000 competing virtually.
Despite so many on the streets of London, acquiring a place can be notoriously tricky, with a record 457,861 applicants for the 2020 race, which eventually became the 2021 race due to Covid-19.
Those selected at complete random are then charged £49 ($66) (UK residents) to race.
With many left disappointed for years at their bad luck, an inevitable backlash on social media followed after the controversy involving the couple.
One tweet read: “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.”
While another runner added: “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 London Marathon confirmed that an investigation is underway.
A spokesperson said: “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.”