SYDNEY: Ethiopia’s Gebo Gameda has powered home to win the 2014 Blackmores Sydney Marathon in a record time of two hours, 11 minutes 18 seconds (2:11:18) as more than 34,000 people ran and walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to finish lines at the Opera House and Conservatorium of Music in the 14th Blackmores Sydney Running Festival.
Gameda, the winner of the 2014 Los Angeles and Pittsburgh Marathons, beat home countryman Seboka Dibaba Tola (2:11:48), with Kenya’s Benjamin Kolum Kiptoo rounding out the podium in 2:12:08.
The women’s event was won for the second successive year by Ethiopian Beruktait Degefa, who scorched her own race record from 2013, to clock a time of 2:29:42, which lowered the benchmark by over three minutes.
The Blackmores Sydney Marathon has recently been awarded the prestigious Silver label from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), recognising the event as a world leader in marathons.
Wheelchair racing great Kurt Fearnley won his tenth Blackmores Sydney Running Festival title, making it an incredible 36 career wins from 56 marathon starts. Fellow Aussie athletes Richard Nicholson and Richard Colman, who was a first time competitor in the event, followed Fearnley home.
An overcast Sydney morning created a slick course underfoot for the runners from 57 countries as they made their way over four separate courses in the run that’s fun for everyone, aiming to raise more than $2 million for charities. All participants made their way over the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge to receive a Blackmores Sydney Running Festival medal with the face of three-time Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Albie Thomas adorning one side.
Also joining the throng of competitors enjoying the sights of Sydney were rugby league greats Andrew Johns and Brad Fittler in the Blackmores Family Fun Run, while Sydney breakfast radio host Gus Worland and TV presenter Sylvia Jeffreys ran in the Half Marathon.
Blackmores Sydney Running Festival Event Director Wayne Larden said the event was a tremendous success.
“It was a great race, a big crew of internationals entered, two records broken, the sun’s out and everyone is happy, we had big numbers so it’s been a good day,” Larden said.
“It was a bit slippery on the surface this morning but that dried up, the winners might have run a little quicker in dry conditions. It was also cooler, which helps the athletes.
“I’m really happy with the records being broken, we put bonuses in place to provide an incentive for the records to be broken because if the winners run fast, people want to come and run it.
“We received a Silver medal status from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) this year, and we will qualify as a Gold medal event next year. That will rank us among events like the Boston and New York Marathons.
“The event is receiving recognition overseas, we have the validation of the IAAF stamp, and now with a live broadcast in Asia Pacific we will see an increasing number of international competitors in years to come.”
Larden said a record number of entrants in the Blackmores Sydney Marathon, more than 4000, reflected the growing popularity of this event.
An estimated 1,000 runners and walkers are still on the course at time of this release.
RESULTS IN ALL EVENTS:
BLACKMORES SYDNEY MARATHON
Ethiopian Gebo Gameda ran 2:11.18 to win the Blackmores Sydney Marathon in record time, beating home Seboka Dibaba Tola (2:11.48), with Kenyan Benjamin Kolum Kiptoo bagging third in 2:12.08.
Gameda was too strong for his rivals in the closing stages, putting 30 seconds on Dibaba Tola and almost a minute on Kiptoo in the closing kilometres, after there had been five runners in the lead pack at the halfway point. The victory was the third win for Gameda’s career following his victories at the Los Angeles and Pittsburgh Marathons this year.
The 26-year-old from Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa said he enjoyed the world-class views along the route, despite the tricky conditions.
“It was a very good course today, although the corners were a little difficult to see” Gameda said.
“I’m very glad with today’s result, my trainer was aware of the race record and it was something he reminded me of before the start.”
Gameda collected not only the race winnings, but also a bonus for breaking the race record. He said he would use the winner’s purse to build his own house in Addis Ababa, with his next major goal a spot on the Ethiopian national team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Fellow Ethiopian Biruktait Degefa won the women’s event for a second consecutive year as she clocked a 2:29.42 to slash more than three minutes from the race record of 2:32.46, which she set at the 2013 event.
It was a fast paced race, with Degefa’s closest competitor, Kenyan Jane Jepkogei Kiptoo posting a time of 2:32.08 – also well under the former race record – while Japan’s Yuka Yano was third in 2:33.19.
Degefa made good on her promise from 2013 to return and run faster, saying she was very happy to break the record and post a second win.
“I was quite sure I could improve last year’s record,” Degefa said.
“I was able to set the pace, making my move at the 15km mark, however I could feel my right leg cramping up in the final two kilometres.
“Everything about running in Sydney is fantastic, and I love the beach!
Illustrating the high pace of this year’s women’s field, second placed Kiptoo also ran a time under the 2013 record, while Yano more than sixth minutes ahead of fourth place.
BLACKMORES WHEELCHAIR MARATHON
Australian Paralympic star Kurt Fearnley has won his tenth Blackmores Sydney Wheelchair Marathon in a time of 1:41.23. It was Fearnley’s sixth consecutive win in the event.
Veteran racer Fearnley finished ahead of fellow Australians Richard Nicholson (1:52.35) and Richard Colman (1:52:46), while five-time Paralympian Christie Dawes finished in a time of 2:03.11, crossing the line as the fourth wheelchair marathon athlete.
Fearnley, who said the thrill of racing in front of a home crowd continued to motivate him to race in the event, revealed he would return to the event in 2015 and beyond.
“It was really good, a perfect day out there, it was steaming up towards the end a little bit after the morning rain, but there was no wind,” Fearnley said.
“The conditions cleared up around 15 minutes into the race and from there on it was good, the coolish temperature ensured it was an enjoyable race.
“I love this race, it’s not often you get to compete in a marathon with your home support. Every single metre I heard people cheering me on and it doesn’t get better than that, that atmosphere is as good as it comes.”
“That was my 56th marathon, my 36th win and hopefully I have another 56 in me.”
BLACKMORES HALF MARATHON
Sydney local Brad Milosevic and Japan’s Ruka Nakamura have crossed the line first in the men’s and women’s 2014 Blackmores Half Marathon, both capturing victory in slippery running conditions at the Sydney Opera House this morning.
Milosevic from Kings Park in the city’s west finished in one hour, six minutes and 47 seconds (1:06.47), to win from Tasmanian born Australian David Thomas (1:07.11) and Bendigo’s Brady Threlfall (1:08.07).
The event also doubled as the Australian Championships with Milosevic’s run ensuring that he took both line honours and the national title, while in the women’s event Commonwealth Games athlete Melanie Panayiotou captured her first Australian championship.
Japan’s Nakamura clocked 1:16.21 in the women’s race to account for Mooloolaba’s Panayiotou (1:16:41), as fellow Queenslander Clare Geraghty crossed third overall, and second in the Australian championship (1:17.27). Dunlop’s Sarah McRae (1:22:13) finished third in the race for the national title.
Milosevic was pleased with his win in what has been a standout year in his career so far. Despite a minor slip on his way to victory, he said that the camaraderie with Thomas and Threlfall was strong and that it was an enjoyable race with his fellow podium finishers.
“This year has been my first real breakthrough year with some good results,” Milosevic said.
“I’m pretty happy with the win, the boy’s (Thomas and Threlfall) kept me honest, it was just a matter of holding on to get to the Opera House.
“I had a bit of a slip but the guys looked after me, it was nothing major.
“I’ve been up since 3:50am; it was an early start, but my second quickest time for the year. However today was all about the placings.”
In the women’s race for the Australian title, Panayiotou said it was a difficult run in testing conditions, noting how enjoyable it was to race through the heart of Sydney.
“It wasn’t an easy run, and Clare (Geraghty) went out with a strong pace,” Panayiotou said.
“The run is quite scenic and nice, it makes it go quickly. A few weeks ago we ran the Sunshine Coast Marathon, but this is one of the big iconic races and you get to finish at the Opera House, which is really cool.
“It’s my first Australian title which is very pleasing, now the goal is to race a Marathon in early 2015 and try win a spot in the Australian World Championships team.”
BLACKMORES BRIDGE RUN (9KM)
More than 16,000 people took part in this year’s Blackmores Bridge Run with NSW based runners taking home all the medals in both the men’s and women’s events.
Jeremy Roff won gold in the men’s in a time of 28minutes 7seconds (28:07) ahead of Thomas Do Canto (28:12) and Mitchell Williamson (29.19).
In the women’s race it was Waverley’s Victoria Mitchell just winning in 32:01 from Randwick’s Lara Tamsett in 32:47. Third was Abbotsford’s Milly Clark in 32.55.
THE BLACKMORES FAMILY FUN RUN/WALK (3.5KM)
Greenwich’s (NSW) Charlie Doherty won the 3.5km Blackmores Family Fun Run in a time of 10mins 51 seconds, 17 seconds ahead of silver medallist, Heathcote’s (NSW) Brandon Nairn (11:06). Kingswood (NSW) runner Michael Chapman grabbed the last spot on the podium in 11 minutes 34 seconds.
It was also a NSW trifecta in the women’s event with Imogen Stewart (Gymea) greeting the judges 30 seconds clear of her closest competitor in 12 minutes 17 seconds. Bethany Halmy (Berowra Heights) won silver for a second consecutive year in 12:47, with South Penrith’s Sianna Steele again coming home third in 13 minutes 13 seconds.
TOP FUNDRAISING RUNNER
Ryan Morrison was this year’s winner of the Suncorp Bank Highest Fundraiser. Morrison, who took part in the Blackmores Bridge Run, raised more than $19,000 for Homocystinuria (HCU), after his eldest son was diagnosed with HCU in 2013 and his younger son also diagnosed just weeks later. There are more than 35 official charities to benefit, with the event surpassing the $12.8 million mark following this year’s event.
Results BLACKMORES MARATHON
1. Gebo Gameda (Ethiopia) 2:11:18
2. Seboka Dibaba Tola (Ethiopia) 2:11:48
3. Benjamin Koloum Kiptoo (Kenya) 2:12:08
4. Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Japan) 2:12:18
5. Abdellah Tagharrafet (Morocco) 2:16:56
6. Atsushi Hasegawa (Japan) 2:19:08
7. Saeki Makino (Japan) 2:25:52
8. Dave Ridley (New Zealand) 2:29:11
9. Ryuichi Sugiura (Japan) 2:38:19
10. Wainaina Eric (Japan) 2:38:24
1. Biruktayit Degefa (Ethiopia) 2:29:42
2. Jane Jepkogei Kiptoo (Kenya) 2:32:08
3. Yuka Yano (Japan) 2:33:19
4. Zemzem Ahmed Deko (Ethiopia) 2:39:46
5. Yumi Sato (Japan) 2:55:20
6. Belinda Martin (Gymea, NSW) 2:56:14
7. Bronwyn Hager (Concord West, NSW) 3:02:36
8. Kellie Epis (Miami, QLD) 3:07:27
9. Jodie Cook (Sanctuary Point, NSW) 3:08:15
10. Renee White (Spring Hill, QLD) 3:10:52