A record number of runners battled the heat yesterday to take part in the annual Sydney Marathon.
Over 42,000 people took part in the running festival, with 17,000 taking on the gruelling 42.195km race, and over 20,000 more in the half marathon, 10km and 3.5km family run.
Morocco’s Othmane El Goumri took 1st place in the men’s event with a time of 2:08:20, wearing a black armband in dedication to the devastating recent earthquakes in his country. The US runner Betsy Saina won the women’s event in 2:26:47.
Fighting unseasonable temperatures, peaking at 32 degrees, runners were not expecting to be competing in one of the hottest Septembers Sydney has seen in years due to a warm air mass from the tropics moving south, that has seen temperatures 10C above normal for this time of the year.
Runners told Central News the unexpected heat wave was “relentless…definitely not what we trained for”.
“The heat is nauseating… it’s really not helping the physical and mental pain I’m going through,” another runner said at the 38-kilometre mark.
Sydney Marathon race director Wayne Larden said: “The safety and wellbeing of our participants is our highest priority, and we are working closely with key stakeholders, including the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) to ensure the highest safety standards are implemented.”
A NSW Ambulance spokesperson said by the end of the race, 26 people had been hospitalised, with seven in a serious condition.
Beginning in Milsons Point, the course crosses the Harbour Bridge and carries down through Pyrmont, The Rocks, The CBD, Darlinghurst, Moore Park, Centennial Park and comes to an end at the Sydney Opera House.
“It’s just so great to see everyone out… there is truly nothing like Sydney,” one spectator said.
Yesterday’s race also began the three-year candidacy for Sydney to join the Abbott World Marathon Majors. (AbbottWMM).
“No city in the world has a greater combination of natural beauty and iconic infrastructure for hosting a marathon than Sydney,” Tourism Minister John Graham said.
The AbbottWMM is an esteemed collection of “the biggest and most popular running event series on the planet featuring the most high-profile, best-known and most desirable marathons in the world.”.
If successful in the bidding, Sydney will join Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City in being the world’s biggest and most popular marathon destinations for elite and everyday runners alike.
Main photo by Bethany Alvaro.