Ethiopians dominated yesterday’s Dublin City Marathon, claiming the top three spots in the men’s race and only losing first place in the women’s race close to the finish.
Just over 19,500 people took part in the 37th running of the event which was held for the first time on a Sunday as opposed to its previous Autumn Bank Holiday Monday date.
Dereje Debele Tulu was 15 seconds ahead of the field as early as the 10 kilometre marker with compatriots Dereje Urgecha Beyecha and Asefa Legese Bekele heading up the chasing posse.
Tulu had stretched his advantage to 43 seconds by halfway with the other two Ethiopians now locked in a struggle with three Kenyans for the minor podium places. A third Kenyan, Gideon Kimosop from the Omagh-based Project Africa, was fifth but slipping off the chasing group.
Tulu only managed to gain another nine seconds by the 30K mark with Beyecha and Bekele locked in a battle with a lone Kenyan Peter Chege Wangari for second spot. Kimosop was now eighth and in freefall before abandoning the race shortly afterwards.
Tulu remained unflustered and crossed the finish line over two minutes clear in 2:12:18.
Beyecha won the battle of attrition for the runner-up spot in 2:14:37 while Bekele took third place another 23 seconds back.
Sergiu Ciobanu, seventh in 2:17:39, was first Irishman home to claim his fourth national marathon title from Sean Hehir (eighth/2:18:45) and Mark Kirwan (11th/2:22:17).
Derryman Gary Slevin appeared to be the leading Ulster finisher clocking 2:37:20 after running negative splits.
It looked as though it was going to be an Ethiopian double with Ehite Gebireyes leading the women’s race for most of the way before being beaten in a sprint finish by a Helalia Johannes. The Namibian had stalked Gebireyes for all of the 26 miles before putting her head in front on the final run-in to win by a mere second in 2:32:31.
Kenya’s Violet Jelagat took the minor spot on the podium in 2:35:02 while Mourne Runners’ Laura Graham claimed the Irish title, finishing in 10th with a personal best 2:41:53. Letterkenny’s Caitriona Jennings, a further place back, lifted the national silver medal clocking 2:44:59. Ireland’s Patrick Monahan was the first to cross the finishing line in men’s wheelchair race.
Earlier, Mark McKinstry was the winner of the Comber Cup Cross Country at Dundonald. The North Belfast Harrier came home ahead of Newcastle duo Seamus Lynch and David O’Flaherty. North Belfast won the men’s team race.
Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson made it a North Down one-two in the women’s race with Willowfield’s Amy Bulman repeating her third place of seven days earlier in Kilbroney.
The weekend kicked off in style with an excellent Spooktacular 5K in Enniskillen on Friday night. No less than 1,260 entered the race organised by Enniskillen Running Club and held on a one-lap circuit around the centre of Fermanagh’s capital.
Foyle Valley’s Scott Rankin arguably confirmed his status as the North’s top home-based distance runner by taking the victory in a record time of 14 minutes and 55 seconds.
Derry Track Club supplied the next four home with J-P Williamson, second in 15:08, ahead of former winner Conan McCaughey (15:13), Conor Doherty (15:58) and Matt Doherty (16:17) who was the leading U20.
St. Peter’s Patricia O’Hagan made a successful trip to her native town to win the ladies’ race in 18:44. Derry Track Club’s Marina Murphy took second in 19:08 with the host club’s Edel Monaghan third in 19:12 to claim the prize for first U20.
City of Derry’s Brendan Murphy clocked a personal best 2:30:20 in yesterday’s Frankfurt Marathon.