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Melbourne Marathon: Internationals steal the show

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Media Release

Sunday, 12 October 2008 Internationals steal the show

The last minute injection of international talent has proved the deciding factor in the 2008 Samsung Melbourne Marathon, with Ethiopia’s Asnake Fekadu and Japan’s Mai Tagami taking out the honours.

In its 31st edition, the 2008 Samsung Melbourne Marathon was a complete sell out across all four events with over 22,000 registering and a massive 18,884 crossing the finish line on the hallowed turf of the MCG – a significant increase from the 16,000 who finished in 2007.

In hot and windy conditions, Fekadu led from the outset completing the 42.195km feat in 2 hour, 17 minutes and 46 seconds in front of Kenya’s Josphat Mwangi (2:21:20) and countryman Yared Mekonnen (2:25:12).

A member of Ethiopia’s national marathon squad, the 26-year-old became the second Ethiopian to win the Samsung Melbourne Marathon, following Zerhun Gizaw’s victory in 1996.

“I came here because of Ethiopia’s history with Melbourne. It was where our country first competed in the Olympic Games in 1956.

“It is a very flat course. I am happy with my time, (considering) it was very windy,” Fekadu said.

Mwangi relived his misfortunes of twelve months ago, crossing the line in second position for the second year in a row.

In the women’s marathon, early favourite Mai Tagami of Japan did not disappoint, finishing in 2:38:46, well ahead of her nearest competitor, Michelle Bleakley (2:49:02). Jenny Wickham from Manly was third in 2:50:17.

Tagami established a significant lead early in the race, and never looked threatened.

“I won but I am not happy with my time, it was a very strong wind from the 25km mark,” Tagami said.

Bleakley, who was forced to pull out of the 2007 Samsung Melbourne Marathon midrace due to illness, was the first Australian across the line. After enduring a double mastectomy and five operations, Bleakley proudly wore the number 1 race bib.

The 40-year-old Sandringham mother of two was in two minds regarding her result.

“I am happy with the place, but disappointed with the final time.

“I wanted to run sub 2:40 and was on track at the turn around point but once we headed back to the MCG, the head wind made it a hard slog home,” Bleakley said.

It was a double celebration for ASICS half marathon winner, Shane Nankervis following the birth of his first son Jesse on Monday.

The Commonwealth Games marathon representative winning the race in 1:05:58, ahead of ACT runners Scott McTaggart (1:06:14) and Rowan Walker (1:06:50). Beijing Olympic marathon runner Lee Troop was fourth in 1:06:59.

The 34-year-old Ballarat resident ran alongside McTaggart and Troop for the first part of the race before the trio broke away from the rest of the pack at the 12km mark. Making his final move at the 19km mark, Nankervis shook off his fellow competitors and developed a break that he held to the finish line.

Nankervis had plenty to think about on the 21.1km course.

“I was thinking of my wife in labour during the race. I was hurting in the final stages, but she was hurting a lot more than me!”

RAAF physical training instructor Cassie Fien (VIC) sliced almost two minutes off her personal best to win the women’s ASICS half marathon in 1:15:14. Inform Victorian Nikki Chapple (1:16:34) finished second with Bilinda Schipp from New South Wales in third (1:18:34).

“It’s the best result of my career. I didn’t think I had a chance in hell of winning. The last 5km’s really hurt,” an ecstatic Fien said, who only moved from Queensland to Sale in Victoria three months ago.

The ASICS half marathon doubled as the 2008 Australian Road Running Championships. Boasting rights in the state of origin clash went the way of the ACT men, overcoming Victoria and Western Australia. The Victorian women came out victors in the women’s competition ahead of Queensland and New South Wales.

In the shorter events, 2007 world cross country representative Liam Adams (31:01) and Kate Seibold-Crosbie (37:37) took out the men’s and women’s The Coffee Club 10km races whilst the Active Feet 5.5km run/walk was run and won by Jared Haube (22:48) and Georgine Beech (23:46).

Event ambassador and marathon legend Robert de Castella was thrilled with the success of this year’s event.

“I am absolutely thrilled to see the event continue to grow. It has captured the imagination of tens of thousands of participants and is a credit to Melbourne.

“I’d like to acknowledge the MCC and their contribution to the event which makes people feel privileged to be a part of the famous MCG. Also, I would like to thank all of the sponsors and IMG for putting the event together.

“As an old and fanatic marathon runner, I am looking forward to the event only getting bigger and better,” De Castella said.

The generosities of participants have also produced record results for the Samsung Melbourne Marathon’s official charity, the Cerebral Palsy Education Centre (CPEC).

This year’s fundraising efforts of over $100,000 have eclipsed those of 2007 and will go a long way to helping more children who suffer from Cerebral Palsy gaining access to the world class CPEC facilities.

Full event results can be found on www.melbournemarathon.com.au

For further information (media only), please contact the Samsung Melbourne Marathon media team:

Taryn Kirby – 03 9500 0122, 0433 665 055 or taryn@jumpmedia.com.au Michelle Cook– 03 9500 0122, 0430 177 668 or michelle@jumpmedia.com.au

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