Crowds 10ft deep cheered as runners completed the final stretch of yesterday’s Dublin Marathon.
And it was a close enough finish for the men’s title as less than six seconds separated the first three runners.
Kenyan Bernard Rotich broke the tape with a time of 2:15:52, ahead of Ukraine’s Yurii Ruskyuk, and Ethiopia’s Asefa Legese Bekele, who clocked 2:15:55 and 2:15:58 respectively.
Bernard Rotich said that for the last 200 metres he wasn’t sure who was going to win, but he managed to pull away from his two closest competitors. The victory follows Rotich’s win in the Belfast Marathon last May.
Ukraine continued its strong showing in the women’s race, with Nataliya Lehonkova taking the top spot with a time of 2:28:57 and fellow countrywoman Viktoriya Khapilina taking third, clocking 2:35:54. Ashu Kasim of Ethiopia took second, with a time of 2:34:54.
The national champions at the SSE Airtricity marathon were Laura Graham and Freddy Sittuk.
Laura Graham of Mourne Runners reclaimed her title with a time of 2:39:06, ahead of Catriona Jennings (Letterkenny) with a time of 2:42:36 and Pauline Curley of Tullamore Harriers on 2:50:53. For Pauline Curley, a 2008 Olympian, it was her 11th time on the podium.
Laura Graham won the Belfast Marathon last May with 2:41:45. While she managed to beat 2012 Olympian Catriona Jennings, her time was outside that for guaranteeing selection for the European Athletics Marathon Cup team in Berlin next August.
Freddie Sittuk of Raheny Shamrocks claimed the men’s national title with 2:16:05. The Kenyan had satisfied residency requirements to be eligible to claim the national title. He was three seconds ahead of Gary O’Hanlon of Clonliffe Harriers in 2:18:52. It was a personal best for the 43-year-old, who topped a previous PB in Berlin in September.
Sergiu Ciobanu, also of Clonliffe, was third in 2:19:05. He has claimed the national title four times. Formerly of Moldova, he is naturalised in Ireland.
Claiming the wheelchair title was Patrick Monahan, who came in on 1:49:55. It was his fourth title and he holds the course record. He was followed by Richie Powell (2:15:28) and Susanne McGrath (3:35:40).
The marathon took place in ideal weather conditions, apart from a headwind in the final couple of miles, from Foster Avenue to the finish on Merrion Square.
There were some 20,000 participants for the start of the race, which began on Fitzwilliam Square, a short walk from Merrion Square.
The route took in a wide geographic and social spectrum of the city, through parts of the south inner city, before crossing the Liffey into Stoneybatter, and onto Phoenix Park, turning south again through Chapelizod, on to Inchicore, Rialto, Dolphin’s Barn and up through Crumlin-Drimnagh.
From there it turned into Walkinstown and Kimmage and the leafy stretches of Templeogue, Terenure, Rathgar, Dartry, Milltown, Clonskeagh, Belfield, and Ballsbridge.
Those giving out the trophies at the podium included Noel Carroll Jnr, son of the famous middle distance runner who helped set up the marathon in 1980 and who died in 1998.
Also at the podium for the female top-three runners was Georgina Drumm, president of Athletics Ireland.
She is the first woman to lead the national association and one of the few female athletics chiefs in Europe.
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