Fleta Page April 16, 2012
As Anthony Farrugia approached the 42.2 kilometre finish line of yesterday's Canberra Marathon, organisers were quickly clearing the way for him, the race leader, to carry on to complete the final 7.8km for the 50km ultra-marathon title.
But Farrugia, the reigning Canberra ultra-marathon champion, couldn't continue and replicate his previous year's feat of endurance. He crossed the finish line and doubled over in pain, having only narrowly held on to the front position.
''I thought maybe the guy behind me would catch up, I was slowing at the end, but I got home and that's all that matters'' he said after crossing the line in two hours, 28 minutes and 23 seconds.
Despite struggling for much of the race, he finished within 18 seconds of his time for last year's race, which saw him finish in third place.
On his tail, just 21 seconds behind, was Matthew Fenech, who closed a three-minute gap in the final kilometres as Farrugia dropped his pace.
With neither Farrugia nor Fenech opting to complete the 50km race, third place-getter Sam Walker took his opportunity.
Thirty-year-old Walker had been training to run the 45km Six-Foot Track marathon last month, but came to Canberra instead after the Blue Mountains event was cancelled. He won the ultra-marathon comfortably, dropping his pace for the course extension and finishing with a broad smile and no sign of fatigue after running for nearly three hours and seven minutes.
Magda Karimali-Poulos again won the women's marathon. The Sydneysider won the race last year, as well as in 2007 and 2009. Her time of 2:47.45 was ''a bit slower'' than she was aiming for.
''I expected it to be a bit cooler, the Canberra weather,'' Karimali Poulos said.
''I found it a bit hot.''
Nevertheless, her time was three minutes faster than last year when the race was run in the rain.
Natasha Fraser of Ballarat won the women's ultra-marathon. The 24-year-old completed the 50km course in three hours, 41 minutes, 17 minutes faster than last year when she finished third.
In the women's half marathon, Canberra runner Hannah Flannery made it back-to-back wins, knocking four-and-a-half minutes off her 2011 time to win comfortably in one hour and 19 minutes.
Sean Bowes from Sydney improved on his third place finish last year, taking two minutes off his time to finish two places higher and win the men's 21.1km event in one hour and 13 minutes.
Overall, the times were slightly slower than last year's event.