A record number of runners braved tough conditions on Monday (October 31) to compete in the 32nd National Lottery Dublin Marathon. Kenya's Geoffrey Ndungu headed the 14,000 strong running field and set a new course record of 2:08:33, finishing over a minute ahead of fellow countryman Gilbert Kiptoo.
Despite strong winds throughout, Ndungu shaved 25 seconds off the course record set by Moses Kibet last year. The 2010 champion finished in fifth position with the top six slots dominated by Kenyan athletes. Sean Connelly of Tallaght AC was the first Irishman home in 12th position in 2:18:52, placing him just outside the Olympic qualifying time.
Ndungu's crucial move occurred around the 22 mile mark as he broke from a pack of four. Post-race Ndungu commented: "At 37 kilometres when running together I tried to sprint and then I made it (the break) and I was running very fast. I enjoyed it. When no one was coming I felt even more strong and then I ran even faster."
The 37-year-old said the prize money of €15,000 for first place finish, with an additional €5,000 for breaking the course record, would allow him to maintain his training schedule: "I hope to save some money for the future. Running is my career. I am doing nothing else but running at the moment. I train every day and I am expecting to run even better than this to run my personal best."
In the women's race, Namibia's Helallia Johannes was first to cross the finish line in 2:30:35. Johannes' time wasn't enough to match the achievements of Ndungu as she finished four minutes slower than the course record set by Tatyana Arysova in last year's race. Emily Rotich of Kenya followed Johannes with a time of 2:32:10, whilst Ireland's Linda Byrne secured Olympic qualification with a sixth placed position (2:36:21).
While the elite runners managed to complete the course with only a strong headwind to battle with, the main field, who set off later, had to endure heavy rain showers. The weather did little to dampen the mood however, with a large number of runners getting into the Halloween spirit with a variety of different costumes.
Race director Jim Aughney said he was delighted with the record turnout; 14,000 runners coming from over 50 countries. Jim said: "We're thrilled that this year's race attracted such fantastic numbers and indeed another course record. I'd like to thank all of the competitors, supporters and volunteers for their participation."