Mother-of-four who won The Great West Run suffers transphobic abuse

Anna Harrold was subjected to online abuse after winning the Great West Run half marathon on Sunday (James Busby)
Anna Harrold was subjected to online abuse after winning the Great West Run half marathon on Sunday (James Busby)

A mother-of-four has hit back at abusive trolls who called her a cheat after she won a women’s half marathon.

Anna Harrold should have been celebrating her victory at the Great West Run in Exeter on Sunday, but instead she faced a barrage of abuse from people online who called her “disgusting”, “revolting” and a “disgrace”.

The comments were centred on false claims she was born a man.

The situation led to the event organisers stepping in and removing comments from a Facebook post announcing the results. In a statement, they also reconfirmed Ms Harrold’s victory.

Speaking to Devon Live, the 43-year-old runner, who won with a time of 1 hour and 19 minutes, said: “I was accused of being a trans man and called disgusting, revolting, twisted, vile, a disgrace, a cheat.

“I am a mum of four, a GP and I run for fun. Being told I look just like a man and don’t conform to the ideals of being a female is upsetting enough but being called abusive names and threatened is awful. No need to do that to any individual, ever, no matter what you believe.”

The Great West Run pulled comments from its post announcing the result with Ms Harold’s victory, and is now moderating posts.

Thousands of people took part in the event, which includes a half marathon, 10km and community mile races.

In a statement, the organisers said: “We are aware that the winner of the women’s 2024 Great West Run Half Marathon has received a number of unsubstantiated and speculative comments regarding her gender and eligibility.“

We do not condone the victimisation and abuse that has been levelled at Anna over recent days and anyone identified as being party to this will be banned from taking part in events and their identities will be shared with England Athletics authorities.

“Furthermore, anyone making negative or derisive comment regarding the matter on our social media platforms will be banned.”

Great West Run holds a licence with UK Athletics, which last year banned transgender athletes from competing in the female category of its competitions.

Organisers added that following an investigation, Ms Harrold’s victory on Sunday was eligible and stands. “We have had no reason or evidence to believe otherwise,” they added.