HE was robbed of his rightful place on the podium by a cheat who hopped on a bus to take him the last few miles.
But marathon runner Steve Cairns was today set to be personally presented with his bronze medal by world record-holding athlete Steve Cram at a special ceremony in the Capital – on an open-top bus.
Mr Cairns, a police constable based at St Leonards, was placed fourth in the Kielder Marathon in Northumberland, which took place on October 9.
But the keen runner was shocked to hear his placing as he knew he had come third after keeping a decent distance between himself and the competitors behind him for the whole race.
With six marathons under his belt, Mr Cairns was in third place to start the race, and managed to maintain the position after pulling ahead of those behind him.
By the half-way point he was a clear five minutes ahead of his next competitor, and hadn’t seen anyone overtake him.
So he was surprised to hear the announcement as he crossed the finishing line that he was fourth, and set out to find out why.
Mr Cairns, 43, said: “I knew exactly what position I was in.
“When I came across the finish line the announcement said ‘here comes fourth-place runner Steve Cairns’.
“I was instantly confused and asked a marshal who had come third. He pointed to a guy who was being interviewed for ITV and I went over to see him because I was confused.
“I asked him if he came third and he said ‘yes’, so 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 speaking to his girlfriend Izzy Knox, who was also running in the marathon, Mr Cairns decided to share his concerns with the event marshals, who put him in touch with event director Steve Cram.
The Olympic athlete told Mr Cairns that he had received reports of a runner who got on a bus at the 20-mile mark and was later seen running towards the finishing line.
An investigation was launched and, despite initially denying it, runner Rob Sloan, below – who crossed the finishing line third – admitted that he had in fact cheated by getting on the bus for the final few miles.
Father-of-two Mr Cairns, who lives in Innerleithen near Peebles, said: “I sat up to watch the race on the news and saw Rob Sloan being interviewed.
“He denied the allegations 24 hours later, which made me mad. He later phoned the organisers and said he was withdrawing from the race because he had made a mistake. This wasn’t a mistake – he blatantly cheated.”
He added: “I have mixed feelings about getting my medal.
“To be presented my prize from Steve Cram is a great honour for me. It’s my moment that I should have had last Sunday.”
Mr Cairns was set to be presented with his medal by Steve Cram at 11.30am at Waverley Bridge.
Mr Cram said: “We were able to speak to Steve immediately after the Salomon Kielder Marathon and told him that, pending the outcome of our investigations, he was likely to be placed third.
“We are delighted now to be able to travel for our official recognition of Steve’s success.”