By Rich Hook
Around 8,000 runners took to the start-line for the Brighton Marathon this Sunday (April 10), and were roared on by crowds of over 100,000.
The elite athletes didn’t let the crowd down as Philemon Kiprop Boit and Alyson Dixon smashed the men’s and women’s course records.
Kenyan Kiprop Boit led home compatriot Richard Bett Rotich in a time of 2hrs 16min 07sec in a highly competitive men’s race, which saw British Olympian Dan Robinson finish fourth.
In the women’s event, Dixon ran a smart race to win in 2hrs 34min 51sec but found her World Championship qualifying time would not count because the International Association of Athletics Federations hadn’t ratified the course.
That controversy failed to detract from a hugely successful second running of the event now considered the second-best marathon in Britain.
Race director, and former European bronze medallist, Tim Hutchings, said: “I’m overjoyed with how the race went.
“It’s fantastic for the city of Brighton and going to be become a firm fixture.”
Winner Kiprop, running his first event in Britain, also enjoyed the experience.
He said: “I am very happy to win this great event. It’s a tough course, especially the first half where there are many hills.
“But all the people [supporting] are so nice, they inspired me. I really like Brighton, especially the beach, so I hope to be back next year and go even better.”
The Kenyan made his break early and had established a one-minute lead by the halfway point.
Rotich fought back and pushed his teammate all the way, finishing in 2hrs 16min 32sec.
Although the heat didn’t affect the leading two, it took a severe toll on the rest of the field.
Many competitors struggled over the line with heat exhaustion, and medical staff on site were kept busy with the influx of dehydrated, cramping athletes.
The heat even hit Robinson, who struggled after the 21 mile ‘wall’, and lost ground to Ethiopian Ambesa Tolossa as he took third place in 2hrs 16min 53sec – 2min 18sec ahead of Britain’s number one.
Robinson was pleased with his race, if not the time, and said: “I struggled a bit after last year’s [calf] injury and the conditions were quite tough with the heat and the wind.
“But it’s a good course – you’ll see some very fast times in the future.”
The fast times began this year as Dixon set an eight minute Personal Best (PB) to become one of Britain’s fastest females.
Her coach, fomer BBC Sports Personality of the Year Liz McColgan, said: “I’ve always believed Aly had the potential to run a great marathon, and today she executed the game plan perfectly.
“To PB on a tough course in these conditions is really impressive.”
Dixon praised the Marathon supporters: “I felt fantastic up to 23 [miles] and then the crowd’s encouragement got me over the line.
“Hearing thousands cheering your name is a fantastic help, as were my whole team.”
Alongside those major charities, several local charities were well supported.
Roger French, Martlets chairman, said he couldn’t thank enough the 100 people raising money for the Hove Hospice.
Adam Smith-Connor, from the New Forest, ran in full bumble-bee outfit for children’s charity Honey Pot.
He said: “The heat took it out, but the crowds sucked me along to the finish.”
Dan Lawson performed the greatest feat, running the course four times to raise money for Albion in the Community.
He started his epic effort at 5pm on Saturday and went back-and-forth across the course before completing the main race with the rest of the field.
And he said he found the final run easiest: “Having coped with running past the [Shoreham] power station in pitch black, doing the run with this fantastic support was easily the best part.”