KAWAUCHI WINS BLACKMORES SYDNEY MARATHON 2012 IN RECORD TIME

Kurt Fearnley follows Paralypics with 8th wheelchair title while more than 34,000 cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

12:10PM SYDNEY: Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi has streeted his opposition to smash the course record and take out the 2012 Blackmores Sydney Marathon as 34,274 people ran, jogged, rolled and walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to finish lines at the Sydney Opera House and Conservatorium of Music in the 12th Blackmores Sydney Running Festival.

A gloriously sunny but cool Sydney morning greeted runners from 52 countries as they made their way around four separate courses in the run that’s fun for everyone and aims to raise more than $2.5 million for charities. All participants received a Blackmores Sydney Running Festival medal with the face of Paralympian Louise Sauvage on one side.

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott MP, ultra-marathon runner Pat Farmer and former Sydney Swans AFL great Brett Kirk ran in the Blackmores Sydney Marathon alongside 11 runners - ‘the Blue Line Legends’ - who were competing in the race for a record 12th consecutive time. The women’s event was won by Japan’s Mitsuko Hirose.

Wheelchair racing great Kurt Fearnley won his eighth Blackmores Sydney Running Festival title and fourth straight marathon crown just a week after claiming bronze at the London Paralympic Games.

Also joining the masses enjoying the sights of Sydney were Blackmores Sydney Running Festival Ambassador Glenn McGrath, who was joined by radio star Gus Worland in the Half Marathon. TV personality Tom Steinfort competed in the Sunday Telegraph body + soul Bridge Run (9km), while MTV VJ Kate Peck, Wallaby Lachie Turner and rugby league legends Andrew Johns and Brad Fittler joined the many family groups on the Sunday Telegraph Family Fun Run (3.5km).

Blackmores Sydney Running Festival Event Director Wayne Larden said Sydney had turned on a stunning day to showcase the city’s sights in the iconic event.

“People from around the world and across Australia come to Sydney to take part in this event for the unique opportunity to run or walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” Larden said.

“The weather was perfect today and there couldn’t be a better advertisement for Sydney and our healthy, outdoor lifestyle.”

Larden said he hoped Kawauchi’s performance would help to boost interest from runners throughout the Asia/Pacific region.

“The event is broadcast to almost 300,000,000 households and, with Yuki Kawauchi from Japan winning the race in a new course record, the Blackmores Sydney Marathon is going to be a great attraction for other Japanese marathon runners.

"We already have almost 500 Japanese fly in to take part, so we hope to be able to capitalise further on this growing tourist marathon market through the publicity in Japan from today’s event.

“Kawauchi has a cult following in Japan and around the world. He is as close to a ‘rock star’ as there is in marathon running and his win and fast time will encourage other runners to run in Sydney in the future.”

At the time of this release, an estimated 700 runners are still on the course.RESULTS IN ALL EVENTS: BLACKMORES SYDNEY MARATHON

After Australian marathon legend Rob deCastella got the field away with the starter’s pistol, Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi put in a sensational performance to clock 2:11.52, slashing two minutes 46 seconds from Julius Maratim’s five-year-old course record and winning by more than four minutes from Kenya’s Felix Kandie (2:16.12).

Defending champion Joel Kiplimo Kemboi was third in 2:18.34, while veteran Lee Troop was the first Australian across the line in 2:24.19, placing fifth.

Kawauchi and Kandie, both 25, had passed through the halfway mark together in 1:06.10 but the Japanese pre-race favourite was always in control, powering home over the second half of the race in 1:05.42.

Kawauchi, a local government official in Tokyo, said he had arrived in Sydney hoping to run 2:13 and was over the moon with his result and the course itself.

“I am very happy with my run, a course record makes me very happy,” Kawauchi said. “The course was a really tough course and it was beautiful and blue in the sea and the sky.”

The women’s marathon was won by Japan’s Mitsuko Hirose in a time of 2:48:49.

Hirose’s compatriot Yukie Tamura (2:52.33) was second, Kenya’s Risper Kemaiyo (2:54.04) third and Allambie Heights’ Jenny Wickham the leading Australian in fourth in 2:56.53.

BLACKMORES WHEELCHAIR MARATHON

Australian Paralympian Kurt Fearnley has won his eighth Blackmores Sydney Wheelchair Marathon in a time of 1:44.40. It was Fearnley’s fourth consecutive win in the event.

NSW’s Fearnley finished ahead of ACT’s Richard Nicholson, who recorded a time of 1:59:39, and Victorian Ian Rohde in 1:54.18.

A relaxed Fearnley said he was more focussed on enjoying the experience than fast times or gold medals.

“It was all about enjoying the culture and the atmosphere of the Blackmores Running Festival,” Fearnley said.

“You don’t get to race around Sydney on closed roads too often and when you get that opportunity you really enjoy it.”

Fearnley will now turn his attention to winning a fifth New York Marathon title in eight weeks.

BLACKMORES HALF MARATHON – Australian Championship

By finishing with silver, Westcott’s second place earned him his second national half marathon title – 12 years after the last time he won the coveted crown. Westcott, from clocked 1:04.47, with Australian Olympic Team 10,000m runner Ben St Lawrence third with a time of 1:05.45.

Tiny Japanese runner Takahiro Gunji stormed home to beat Australian Scott Westcott in the 2012

Blackmores Half Marathon, crossing the finish line at the

Sydney

Opera House in a time of 1:04:19.

The race also doubled as the Australian Half Marathon Championships.

Aberglasslyn in the Hunter Valley,

After the event Westcott revealed his desire to add to his list of national titles.

“I won my first (Australian) half marathon title in 2000, which is still my PB,” Westcott said.

“It was the week after the Olympic Trials in 2000 when I was trying to make the Olympic Team in the 10km.

It’s been 12 years between drinks, but I’ve won a national cross country title in the mean time, and now I

really want to win a national marathon title as well.”

The first female across the Blackmores Half Marathon line was another Japanese runner – Natsumi

Matsumoto - in a time of 1:15:01, while the second placegetter, Victorian Sinead Diver (1:16.00) claimed

the Australian Championship from Western Australian Lauren Shelley (1:16.28).

THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH body + soul BRIDGE RUN (9KM)

More than 16,200 people took part in this year’s Sunday Telegraph body + soul Bridge Run with Newcastle’s David Bradney, 22, winning in 28:50.

Finishing behind Bradney, a middle distance track runner, was Moorebank’s Matthew Cox (29:46) and Beecroft’s Toby Menday (29:56).

In the women’s race it was a NSW trifecta with Hannah Menday (Beecroft, 33:51) winning from Roseville Chase’s Anna White in 34:03. Third was Keiraville’s Melinda Witchard in 34:53.

THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH FAMILY FUN RUN/WALK (3.5KM)

Sydney’s Patrick Elliott won the 3.5km Sunday Telegraph Family Fun Run & Walk in a slick time of 10:48 - just four seconds ahead of last year’s winner, 14-year-old Adam Halmy. Ed Goddard (10:54) rounded out a tight podium in third.

Another 14-year-old - Cremorne’s Dominica Lucas – claimed the women’s race in 12:28, ahead of Ciaran Williams in 13:09 and Eloise Doherty (13:19). The victory was young Lucas’ second in the event in as many years.

TOP FUNDRAISING RUNNER

Clyde Campbell of Balmoral is the winner of the Suncorp Bank Highest Fundraiser award for the second year in a row, raising more than $32,000 for the Shake It Up Foundation, which he founded after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease three years ago.

The Shake It Up Foundation is one of 31 official charities to benefit from more than $2.5 million being raised by runners taking part in this year's event.

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