Over 32,000 participants embraced windy weather conditions and hit the streets of Melbourne at the 39th Medibank Melbourne Marathon Festival today.
Elwood PE teacher Virginia Moloney (Vic) and Thomas Do Canto (NSW) became Australia’s marathon champions after taking line honours on the hallowed turf of the MCG in the Medibank Melbourne Marathon.
Do Canto, running his first marathon, clocked 2:20:53, while Moloney smashed seven minutes off her PB to finish in 2:34:27 and improve her chances of making the world championship team for London in August.
Raised on a dairy farm in Garvoc alongside her ten siblings, Moloney has blossomed as a runner since moving to Melbourne and joining fellow teacher Liam Delaney’s group in 2014.
She now lives just near Junction Oval and many school pupils cheered her on at the Elwood Beach turnaround at 25km.
“I absolutely have the world championships in my sights, now. I’ve got the monkey off my back, and have put a time on the board that I am proud of. I’ve marked myself as someone that deserves to be here now,” Moloney said.
“The Medibank Melbourne Marathon is a fast course and despite the wind, there was no reason that we should have had a slow race, so we decided to stick to the plan and run to the best of my ability in the conditions. I ran as well as I could when the wind was against me and then let the wind carry me on when it was on my tail.
“I certainly didn’t get a feeling of elation when I finished last year. I thought then, why does everyone love running into the ‘G, but this time it was amazing. That was my first marathon, this one won’t be my last, but it was an awesome experience today. I’m happy to keep doing the hard work for feelings like today.”
Moloney finished nearly seven minutes clear of Victorian Sinead Diver (2:34:27) and Queensland’s Victoria Beck (2:46:02).
Do Canto’s win came just nine weeks after the birth of his first son, Leo.
The 30-year-old Sydney podiatrist was among a leading group of four with Matthew Cox, Duer Yoa and Isaias Beyn when a competitor in the half marathon, Ben Moreau, overtook them into the wind during the stretch between 32 and 35km along St Kilda Road. All four tried to latch onto the back of Moreau like cyclists would into the wind, but after 34km Do Canto was the only runner left and he paid tribute to Moreau post-event.
“The wind was really brutal so it was crucial to have that support from Ben (Moreau). I clung on to him and as we split off to come home I just said to him, you legend. I’ve never got a solid block of training together and never thought I would run a decent marathon until I did,” Do Canto said.
Do Canto and Moloney each claimed $20,000 for winning the race.
Another debutant, Central Coast’s Jack Colreavy, also benefitted from the wind buffer provided by Liam Adams, and moved through to claim second in 2:23:16, while Cox was third in 2:24:04.
Event Director, Marcus Gale congratulated participants. “Today’s windy spring conditions didn’t deter the 32,571 people who participated in one of five distances on offer at the event.
“Congratulations to everyone who took part, it has been a fantastic day out there. Watching people cross the finish line while being cheered on by friends and family in the crowd has definitely been a highlight for me,” Mr Gale said.
In other results from the Medibank Melbourne Marathon Festival:
– Olympian Eloise Wellings made the late decision to run the half-marathon after initial entering for the 10km event, with the change proving a good decision as she took line honours in 1:14:18.
– Another Rio Olympian Brett Robinson stormed home to claim the half marathon in 1:06:42, just ahead of Brad Milosevic 1:06:58.
– Stewart McSweyn (Tas) and Bridey Delaney (NSW) won the men’s and women’s 10km race respectively.
Spartan Legend, Neville Gardner, 72 completed his 39th consecutive Melbourne Marathon and was the last competitor to cross the line in 2016 in just over seven hours.
Medibank CEO, Craig Drummond congratulated participants.
“Well done to all participants for your dedication to fitness. It’s great to see so many Melburnians crossing the finish line in support of their favourite charities, and improving their wellbeing through exercise,” Mr Drummond said.