Two first-time Canadian marathoners had exceptional showings at yesterday’s ING Ottawa Marathon event, during the 34th annual Ottawa Race Weekend that drew 32,873 participants to seven races and featured a new women’s course record.

The weekend “smashed” records, said Susan Longbottom, president of the board of directors for Ottawa Race Weekend. “It was a fabulous weekend. I can’t even begin to estimate the spectators.

“I think when you’re here, you feel the energy and the excitement,” said Longbottom. “It makes you want to come back.”


Nearly 33,000 runners — and a legion of supporters and interested spectators — clogged downtown streets yesterday for the race weekend, which saw the marquee marathon and half-marathon events run in the wake of the five- and 10-kilometre events a day earlier.

Kenya’s David Cheruiyot won his third marathon championship title yesterday, with a time of 2:10:59 over 42.2 kilometres. Although the time was 26 seconds short of the course record he established here last year, Cheruiyot said after the race, “I feel very good.”

“The course was good, the race was good, it was good weather for it,” said the 38-year-old, who said he would return next year.

A course record did fall to Asmae Leghazoui, of Morocco, who captured the overall women’s title with a time of 2:28:43.

The 31-year-old, who described herself as “feeling great” after the race, said the race was difficult because she “was alone for 25 kilometres.”

In their debut marathons, new Canadian Giitah Macharia and Toronto’s Tara Quinn-Smith captured the men’s and women’s Canadian titles, respectively. Macharia ended with a time of 2:16:54, while Quinn-Smith finished in 2:33:57. Macharia, 28, who previously ran 10Ks, said the marathon is “a completely different race.

“Once you do 30K, you feel so tired, no matter how hard you train,” said the Congo native. “I just wanted to see the finishing line. I didn’t think about who was in front of me and who was behind me. I just focused on my body.”

With her time, Quinn-Smith is eligible for selection to Canada’s team for the 2009 World Cup in Berlin.

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