His winning time of 2:09.12 was agonisingly close to the course record (2:09.07) set in 2007 but it was still enough to earn him a bonus of €4,000 on top of his winner’s prize of €15,000.
Lilesa took control at the front at nine miles when early leader and course record holder Alexsey Solokov of Russia took a breather. Lilesa made a determined run at the front closely shadowed by the more experienced Kenyan runner, Solomon Bushendich.
Lilesa looked particularly strong on the hills but he was also nervous in his front running position. The Ethiopian was always in contention as a group of 12 runners raced through the opening two miles in 9 minutes 32 seconds. At four miles the lead group was down to nine with Aleksey Sokolov setting the pace at the front.
It was Lilesa who was in command at the half-way mark reached in 64.05 and at 15 miles there was a gap of 17 seconds back to the chasing group led by Sokolov.
By 18 miles Lilesa had a opened up a gap of forty two seconds on the chasing group as he continued to reel off a series of sub five minute miles.
It was only in the closing miles that the lively Ethiopian started to slow down and that slight drop off in pace denied him the course record that was within his reach for most of the race.
Course record holder. Alexsey Sokolov ran an even paced race and came through strongly in the closing staged to claim second position in 2:10.38 and Serem Noah of Kenya took third in 2:11.14. Last year’s winner, Andriy Naumov of Ukeraine finished eighth.
The women’s race was won by Kateryna Stetsenko in 2:32.45. The Ukraine runner came through to pass early leader Helelia Johannes from Namibia, 2:33.26. Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia placed third in 2:23.49.
There was an international flavour also to the men’s race for the Athletics Ireland National Marathon Championship incorporated in the Dublin Marrathon.
Sergiu Ciobanu, a native of Moldova, but running in the colours of Clonliffe Harriers, took the title in 2.22.06 and was delighted with his achievement.
“This a very big thing for me and it is a great honour to win this Irish national title,” Ciobanu said. The Moldovan native works in Cahir in Tipperary but continues to run for his adopted club Clonliffe Harriers in Dublin. “I came to Ireland to work four years ago and I have been really enjoying my running here.”
There was great satisfaction too for 44-year old Pauric McKinney of Letterkenny Athletic Club who took the silver medal position in the men’s national championship, finishing in 2:26.21. Owen Gahan from St Senan’s Athletic Club in Kilmacow, Kilkenny set a personal best of 2:28.16 to take the bronze medal.
There was terrific battle out on the road for the women’s national title as seasoned campaigners Annette Kealy of Raheny Shamrock AC and Pauline Curley of Tullamore Harriers became locked in a protracted contest for the title.
The pair were together from 15 miles and it was only in the closing stages that Annette Kealy was able to break clear to take the gold medal in 2:45.43. Pauline Curley followed close behind in 2:46.13 and Claire McCarthy from St Fionbarr’s Club in Cork took the bronze medal in 2:48.58.
The women’s race was not without some controversy as both Annette Kealy and Pauline Curley received two warnings on the course as some of their supporters tried to ride beside them on bicycles. “The two runners came very close to being disqualified as their supporters ignored the course referee’s warnings about pacing or encouraging,” Race Director Jim Aughney said. “The Gardaí have always warned about the dangers of allowing cyclists on the course and we think that it is very dangerous and very unfair that this type intrusion should happen on the course.”
Annette Kealy was thrilled with her performance, just short of her 42nd birthday. Kealy, who works as a barrister in the Four Courts, is a mother of four children. “I owe lot to my husband Eoin who really makes it possible for me to train for events like this,” Kealy said.
Pauline Curley, who competed in the marathon at the Beijing Olympics, had to settle for the silver medal on this occasion, but the Tullamore woman was happy with her race. “It was a great race between Annette and myself – tough all the way,” Curley said.
Richie Powell of Wales won the wheelchair event in 2:09.25. Weather conditions were excellent for this 30th anniversary running of the marathon. Over 10,000 runners went through the half-way mark and close to that number were expected to finish.