September 22, 2013 – 4:04PM
An Ethiopian woman has won the Sydney marathon, breaking a 12-year record.
Biruktait Degefa crossed the finishing line before 11am on Sunday, taking just over two-and-a-half hours to run the 42.2 kilometre course.
Degefa set a new record of 2 hours, 32 minutes and 45 seconds, beating the 2 hours, 38 minutes and 11 seconds set by Australian woman Krishna Stanton in 2001.
Kenyan Willy Kibor Koitile took out the men’s division with a time of 2 hours, 13 minutes and 48 seconds.
Local girl Laura James won the women’s half marathon, with the 21km course kicking off at Milson’s Point, crossing over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and winding through the CBD.
James, from Cronulla, crossed the finish line at the Sydney Opera House in 1 hour, 18 minutes and 36 seconds – a result the 27-year-old called the best of her career.
“I wasn’t expecting to win that’s for sure,” she said.
“I run around the city a lot and I knew the course pretty well.”
She pipped second-placed Dubbo’s Jane Fardell (1:19.26) and Japanese representative Ema Harada (1:20.16).
Japan’s Yoshihiro Nishizawa took out the men’s event in 1:07.02, beating Ethiopian born Australian Gemechu Woyecha (1:07.56) and Merewether’s Vlad Shatrov (1:09.20).
Kurt Fearnley took out the top spot in the Wheelchair Marathon in 1 hour, 39 minutes and 14 seconds.
More than 34,000 people entered the various events in the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival including almost 1500 international runners from 57 countries and 1900 interstate contestants.
The Harbour Bridge reopened at 11am, but other roads were closed into the afternoon.
Around 2000 runners were still completing the marathon around noon on Sunday.