After being displaced into fourth position by an athlete who decided to catch the bus for the final 6 miles of the Kielder Marathon, Steve Cairns received his rightful bronze medal on Wednesday. To make the podium position all the sweeter, the police constable from Peebles was presented with his medal in a special ceremony at Waverley Bridge, Edinburgh.
As he approached the finish line in last week's marathon, Cairns was convinced he had secured third position after keeping a decent distance between himself and the runners behind him for the duration of the race. Indeed, a gap of 5-minutes separated him and his closest competitor at the half-way point.
Despite the fact he hadn't passed him, Cairns was informed by marshals that Rob Sloan finished in third position. After watching Sloan being interviewed, Cairns confronted the runner: "I asked him when he passed me. He initially said he passed me at 15 miles and I told him that he didn't and that I was five minutes ahead of everyone else at that point. He just wanted to get away from me as quickly as possible."
After suspicions grew concerning Sloan's remarkably quick split time and rumours emanating that a runner had been seen boarding a bus at the 20-mile mark, race-director Steve Cram launched a full investigation into the event. Reports also claim Sloan was seen hiding behind a tree before deciding to complete the final section of the course.
Since the incident occurred, Sloan has been expelled from his club Sunderland Harriers. A report on the club website read, "His constant denials to cheating have further blighted the situation and brought shame and embarrassment to Sunderland Harriers. We apologise again to the Kielder marathon organisers and especially to third-placed runner Steve Cairns, whose moment of acclaim was denied through Sloan's actions."
To make up for his podium absence at the Kielder marathon, Cairns yesterday enjoyed his own individual ceremony as the race director presented him with his medal. Cairns commented: "It's great to have met Steve [Cram]. For him to have come up and present the medal in person just tops the performance of the day."