Unheralded Kenyan Silah Limo quietly lowered the Australian all-comers record in a comprehensive victory at today’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon.
As the thousands of onlookers erupted in applause at the Southport Broadwater Parklands finish line the 22-year-old whispered to a stunned throng of media that this was his first marathon.
It was truly an unbelievable debut.
Not only had he won Australia’s premier marathon which now carries the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Road Race Gold Label, he had also stamped the course as the nation’s fastest.
Today’s time of 2hrs:09mins:14secs toppled the existing Gold Coast Airport Marathon record of 2:10:01, shaving four seconds off the fastest marathon ever in Australia – 2:09:18, set in 1982 by Aussie icon Rob de Castella at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games.
Records were supposed to fall today. But Limo was meant to be in the support cast, not the lead role.
The pre-race script had this as a head-to-head clash of the men’s event’s equal course record holders, Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi and Kenya’s Nicholas Manza.
Kawauchi stormed home for third in 2:11:27, after spectacularly falling over at the 20km mark. American Jeffrey Eggleston (2:10:52) was second. Manza failed to finish.
“I feel so happy because I have run my best in my first race on the Gold Coast,” a barely audible Limo said.
“I was aiming to run 2:10. That was my hope today. I tried to push and push.”
This may be his first marathon, but there were ominous signs after he had kicked clear at about the 30km mark. Asked how fast he could go Limo, quietly, but confidently suggested a time in the 2:06 range.
“I felt that is great for my first time … but if there were pace makers, I think I can go 2:06.”
That would have been music to the ears of de Castella, who as a race ambassador, was sideline to congratulate Limo.
“I’m probably disappointed that it has taken so long,” de Castella said of his record falling.
“It was time. It is significant for the Gold Coast, because now it is officially the fastest course in Australia. We always knew the course here was quick but now we have the time to prove it.
“But we should still be aiming to run 2:08 or 2:07 especially with the calibre of the African fields we are getting here.
“There is still work to do, but this is a great step. The record was 32 years old and was well overdue to be smashed.”
It was a lucrative day for Limo who collected a total of $35,000 – $15,000 for the race win and $20,000 for breaking the all-comers record.
Second-placed Eggleston said the latter stages of the race were certainly a tough proposition.
“The last 10-12kms were difficult because I was by myself so I just ran a good pace and kept it together and tried not to let the wheels come off,” he said.
“The last 5kms was the most difficult but I just had to keep the legs rolling over. The crowd just kept building after the 37km mark and it was really helping because I was suffering.”
Third-placed Kawauchi said he had been confident of a fast time until he fell.
“I fell down at the 20km mark, so if that hadn’t happened I would have been getting a fast pace, but unfortunately I didn’t,” he said.
“It was a very strong race with a high quality field. Before I fell down I had quite a good run but after that I just kept telling myself ‘never give up, never give up’.”
Limo and Kawauchi have both promised race organisers they will return to the Gold Coast in 2015.
Women’s winner Asami Kato, was elated at her Gold Coast debut, taking top place on the podium with a brisk 2:28:51.
Second was country-woman Rika Shintaku (2:30:37) with Ethiopian Tsehay Desalegn Adhana third in 2:31:41.
“This was my first time for this race and I am very happy because it was a PB for me,” said Kato, whose previous best had been a 2:29:08.
She said she had been part of the lead pack today until about the 30km mark, when she was able to break away.
Kato said she ‘would love’ to return to the Gold Coast next year with the aim to lower the women’s record, set in 2013 by Japan’s Yukiko Akaba.
Second-placed Shintaku ran a PB, but was disappointed with her performance.
“This was my first marathon on the Gold Coast and unfortunately I was really dissatisfied with my result because I felt so confident coming into the event with my training,” she said.
“However I did beat my PB by a minute. I will definitely use this as a benchmark for the upcoming world championship selection races.”
Third-placed Adhana found conditions today ‘a little difficult’.
“My legs started cramping and the Japanese girls ran ahead,” she said in summation.
Gold Coast Airport Marathon sentimental favourite Lee Troop finished in 18th position in 2:27:23.
The 2006 Gold Coast Airport Marathon winner, event ambassador, sub-2:10 marathoner, three-time Olympian and Commonwealth Games representative, brought down the curtain on his Australian marathon career at today’s race.
“I got to 29km and I thought, ‘I can’t … I’m cramping’, but when I hit 30km the crowd on the bridge grew on me,” he said.
“I thought ‘I’m going to finish it off’ and the adrenalin got to me.
“All I have got to say to the Australian public is that it has been an absolute honour to represent you at the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships the Olympics and the World Cross Country and to be perfectly honest with you I have the best job in the world.”
The first Australian across the finish line in the marathon was 44-year-old ACT policeman Rowan Walker, who is now the Australian marathon champion.
He finished in 11th place in 2:21:47.
The first female Aussie was Victorian Tarli Bird (2:43:58), who finished in eighth place on debut.
After 42kms the wheelchair marathon finish was a cliffhanger with South Australian Nathan Arkley, edging out Australian paratriathlete champion Bill Chaffey – officially by a second.
“I was hoping to go a little quicker,” said Arkley.
“I’ve had two weeks off and just starting to get back into it.”
Chaffey said the pair had worked together through the first half of the race.
“It was great – we were working together there for a while until about the 30-32km mark.”
Melbourne-based Kenyan Reuben Kosgei has vowed to return to take on the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in 2015 after winning today’s ASICS Half Marathon in a competitive 1:04:56.
For the 34-year-old there were plenty of reasons for elation when he crossed the line more than half a minute ahead of New South Welshman Brad Milosevic (1:05:33) and Tasmanian Josh Harris (1:05:51).
Kosgei, who shot to fame back at the 2000 Sydney Olympics when he won the 3000m steeplechase aged 21, has been out of running for three years with an Achilles injury.
“I have had the injury since 1999, but I felt good today, the aim is to be back next year to do the marathon,” he said.
“I am very happy.”
Kosgei led early and wasn’t seriously challenged throughout the 21.095km race.
“I led from the start. I could see that the others were like me and starting slowly. So I decided to lead or the pace would have been very slow.
“I did not feel any pressure at any stage. It was a comfortable win, but the time was slow.”
Kosgei is also rapt with the Gold Coast.
“I really like the city,” he said.
“I thought it was small, but it is a big city. I also like the course and the weather is beautiful.”
Milosevic, 25, winner of the IAAF Oceania Area Half Marathon Championship and second overall, said his performance was a lesson to any youngster coming through.
“I have been racing for 13 years now and this is my biggest win so far. I’ve never actually got a podium until now.”
Third-placed Harris pushed hard to the line, just edging out New Zealander Aaron Pulford.
“Being the Oceania Championships I wanted to medal,” he said.
“I gave it everything to get past the New Zealander to make sure I got a medal, so I’m definitely over the moon.”
Sydney-based Milly Clark may be ‘scared’ by longer distances, but those fears were punted to the Gold Coast kerbside when she took out the women’s ASICS Half Marathon today in 1:14:04, ahead of Sinead Diver (1:14:25) and Victoria’s Karinna Fyfe (1:14:49).
“I came second in the 10km race here last year,” said Clark.
“I have dabbled in steeple chase and have found the longer the distance the better. That was only my second half marathon and eventually I would like to move up to the full marathon, but that distance scares me.
“I only started running five years ago. My background was sprinting and I promised myself ‘no more than one lap’. And now here I am doing 21kms.”
Clark did not take the lead in today’s race until about three kilometres to go.
“I was chasing for most of the race,” she said.
“I was in seventh until about 8K. Then I thought that I was feeling OK so I motored on a bit. So I just focused on passing the next person in front of me. I misjudged the finish a little, but managed to hang on.”
Clark hopes to continue her elevation through the Australian running elite ranks.
“This year I was three seconds away from the qualifier for the 10km for the Commonwealth Games,” she said.
“When that didn’t happen I thought, ‘everything happens for a reason, so maybe I should go up in distance’. I do get better as I go longer.”
Clark said she had a genuine affection for the Gold Coast course.
“I love it,” she said.
“I love just running along the flat and just zoning out.”
Second-placed Sinead Diver, Irish-born and Melbourne-based, said she tried to stay with Clark in the closing stages.
“I tried to hold on but she just pulled away,” she said.
Third-placed Karinna Fyfe, also from Melbourne was rapt with her time.
“I am absolutely stoked, it was a massive PB for me by just over two minutes,” she said.
The ASICS Half Marathon is the most popular event on the weekend run schedule. This year a sea of 9650 faces fronted the start line at 6am for the first race of today’s events as the temperature dropped to 12 degrees.
Minister for Tourism and Major Events Jann Stuckey said the success of the 2014 Gold Coast Airport Marathon reinforced Queensland’s global reputation as a premier sporting event and tourism destination.
“The Gold Coast Airport Marathon continues to be a highly-anticipated sporting highlight on the Gold Coast event calendar, this year welcoming unprecedented international participation,” said Ms Stuckey.
“The collaborative effort of Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ), Gold Coast Tourism, Gold Coast Airport and Tourism Australia to promote the event abroad continues to strengthen the event’s international reputation.
“As the first Australian marathon to attain the prestigious International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Road Race Gold Label, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon has positioned itself as one of the world’s leading road races, reinforcing Queensland’s reputation as a pre-eminent sporting destination.”
Results from the Gold Coast Airport Marathon today:
Men: Silah Kipkemboi Limo (KEN) 2h09m14s 1, Jeffrey Eggleston (USA) 2h10m52s 2, Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) 2h11m27s 3, Stephen Kipkemei Tum (KEN) 2h12m10s 4, Samuel Woldeamanuel (ETH) 2h13m08s 5, Chiharu Takada (JPN) 2h14m36s 6, Stephen Kibiwot (KEN) 2h14m57s 7, Cyrus Gichobi Njui (JPN) 2h17m48s 8, Kenta Kawasaki (JPN) 2h18m01s 9, Hirokatsu Kurosaki (JPN) 2h19m12s 10.
Women: Asami Kato (JPN) 2h28m51s 1, Rika Shintaku (JPN) 2h30m37s 2, Tsehay Desalegn Adhana (ETH) 2h31m41s 3, Yebrgual Melese Arage (ETH) 2h32m49s 4, Hiroko Yoshitomi (JPN) 2h34m41s 5, Goitetom Haftu Tesema (ETH) 2h40m19s 6, Chihiro Tanaka (JPN) 2h42m27s 7, Tarli Bird (AUS) 2h43m58s 8, Eiko Ueno (JPN) 2h45m08s 9, Alexandra Williams (NZ) 2h45m21s 10.
Results from the Wheelchair Marathon today:
Men: Nathan Arkley (SA) 1h46m29s 1, Bill Chaffey (NSW) 1h46m30s 2, Mark Urquhart (QLD) 2h13m09s 3, Jason McGregor (QLD) 2h22m48s 4.
Women: Rosemary Little (NSW) 2h05m37s 1.
Results from the Wheelchair 15km today:
Men: Rheed McCracken (QLD) 0h39m12s 1, Luke Bailey (NSW) 0h39m37s 2, Stuart Hume (NSW) 0h40m41s 3, Yuhei Yasuno (JPN) 0h59m05s 4.
Women: Sara Tait (QLD) 0h48m09s 1, Julie Charlton (NSW) 0h58m45s 2, Kelly Darragh (QLD) 1h12m53s 3.
Results from the ASICS Half Marathon today:
Men: Reuben Kosgei (KEN) 1h04m56s 1, Brad Milosevic (NSW) 1h05m33s 2, Josh Harris (TAS) 1h05m51s 3, Aaron Pulford (NZ) 1h05m52s 4, Samuel Wreford (NZL) 1h05m57s 5, Toby Rayner (VIC) 1h06m34s 6, Jeffrey Hunt (NSW) 1h06m44s 7, Nathan Baxter (QLD) 1h07m00s 8, Neil Berry (NSW) 1h07m15s 9, Paul Morgan (SA) 1h07m12s 10.
Women: Milly Clark (NSW) 1h14m04s 1, Sinead Diver (VIC) 1h14m25s 2, Karinna Fyfe (VIC) 1h14m49s 3, Lydia O’Donnell (QLD) 1h15m49s 4, Amelia Aslanides (VIC) 1h16m13s 5, Clare Geraghty (QLD) 1h16m27s 6, Molly Tilbrook (VIC) 1h17m31s 7, Julia Edwards (VIC) 1h18m24s 8, Tamlyn Mathiske (QLD) 1h18m58s 9, Cassandra Fien (QLD) 1h19m02s 10.
Results from the Australia Marathon Championships today:
Men: Rowan Walker (ACT) 2h21m47s 1, Alastair Stevenson (QLD) 2h23m48s 2, Vladimir Shatrov (NSW) 2h24m45s 3, John Dutton (VIC) 2h26m49s 4, Lee Troop (VIC) 2h27m23s 5, Clay Dawson (QLD) 2h32m12s 6, Adam Bishop (SA) 2h33m15s 7, John Csongei (SA) 2h34m31s 8, Scott Brittain (QLD) 2h34m43s 9, Paul Tucker (QLD) 2h36m17s 10.
Women: Tarli Bird (VIC) 2h43m58s 1, Aarthi Venkatesan (QLD) 2h47m30s 2, Nera Jareb (WA) 2h51m16s 3, Melanie McDonald (NSW) 2h52m02s 4, Jane Fardell (NSW) 2h53m50s 5, Suzanne Harrington (NSW) 2h57m31s 6, Karen Sawyer (SA) 2h58m53s 7, Jen Gillard (TAS) 2h59m14s 8, Lisa Davis (SA) 2h59m32s 9, Sarah Martin (VIC) 3h01m44s 10.
Results from the IAAF Oceania Area Marathon Championships today:
Men: Rowan Walker (AUS) 2h21m47s 1, Alastair Stevenson (AUS) 2h23m48s 2, Vladimir Shatrov (AUS) 2h24m45s 3, John Dutton (AUS) 2h26m49s 4, Lee Troop (AUS) 2h27m23s 5, Clay Dawson (AUS) 2h32m12s 6, Adam Bishop (AUS) 2h33m15s 7, John Csongei (AUS) 2h34m31s 8, Scott Brittain (AUS) 2h34m43s 9, Paul Tucker (AUS) 2h36m17s 10.
Women: Tarli Bird (AUS) 2h43m58s 1, Alexandra Williams (NZL) 2h45m21s 2, Aarthi Venkatesan (AUS) 2h47m30s 3, Melanie McDonald (AUS) 2h52m02s 4, Jane Fardell (AUS) 2h53m50s 5, Suzanne Harrington (AUS) 2h57m31s 6, Karen Sawyer (AUS) 2h58m53s 7, Jen Gillard (AUS) 2h59m14s 8, Lisa Davis (AUS) 2h59m32s 9, Sarah Martin (AUS) 3h01m44s 10.
Total – 27,147
Gold Coast Airport Marathon – 5,613
ASICS Half Marathon – 9,650
Southern Cross University 10km Run – 6,334
Suncorp Bank 5.7km Challenge – 3,834
4km Junior Dash – 613
2kim Junior Dash – 1,087
Wheelchair Marathon – 9
Wheelchair 15km – 7