By Hannah Ewan
A POLICE officer robbed of his podium place in a marathon by a cheating runner who hopped on a bus to take him the last few miles has had his award restored by athlete Steve Cram.
Veteran Edinburgh marathon runner Steve Cairns crossed the finish line earlier this month convinced he had clinched third place.
He was told that Rob Sloan had pipped him to the post.
But it later emerged Mr Sloan took a spectators’ bus for the final six miles of the race.
Mr Cairns, an officer based at St Leonards Police Station in Edinburgh, was fittingly handed the medal on board the top deck of an Edinburgh tour bus.
Today the 43-year-old said he was initially “gutted” to miss out on the prize.
But he added: “I’m now the most famous third place runner ever.”
He said he found it difficult to comprehend Sloan’s actions. “I find it very hard to understand. Running is a very individual sport, all about personal achievement.
“He only cheated himself, and I find that hard to fathom. I would never do something like that.”
But he said he was honoured to meet his hero Steve Cram as a result. He added:
“I feel my glory has been restored with icing on it. It’s quite bizarre and quite amazing at the same time. I do see the humour in it – it is humorous at the end of the day.”
Sloan still denies having cheated at all.
But Cram, who is now a sport commentator and co-founder of the Northumberland-based Kielder Marathon, where the incident took place, said he was sceptical.
The runner speculated that Sloan had stepped onto the bus on a whim and played along with having finished third in the ensuing excitement and confusion.
“To begin with, I was quite sympathetic,” said Cram. “But then he did his television interviews and continued to deny it. Only he knows why he continues to do that.”
The experience has certainly not persuaded Mr Cairns, who is originally from Northern Ireland, to hang up his running shoes.
He said he is already looking forward to claiming his podium place at the Kielder marathon next year.