Sydney Marathon winner dedicates race to Moroccan earthquake victims

More than 17,000 runners lined up for the Sydney Marathon, a record turnout for the event, and the biggest marathon held in Australia, according to organisers.

The beginning of the race at Milsons Point may have been packed, but the home stretch saw Moroccan long-distance runner Othmane El Goumri take the top spot, with a time of two hours, eight minutes and 20 seconds.

The 31-year-old Olympian didn’t think he would compete in the race after a devastating 6.8 magnitude earthquake destroyed rural villages in the Atlas Mountains north of the capital Marrakesh.

El Goumri wore a black armband for the 2,900 victims.

“I have loved ones effected by the earthquake,” El Goumri said in Arabic.

“I did not think I would come to Sydney, but thank Allah at the last minute I decided to come.

“I was thinking about the people in Morocco while running, and this victory is for them.”

two athletes embrace t the finish line

Betsy Saina from the USA and Rahma Tusa Chota from Ethiopia share a winner’s hug after completing the race. (ABC News: Keana Naughton)

woman holds up hands in joy while crossing finishing ribbon

US runner Betsy Saina won with a time of two hours, 26 minutes and 46 seconds. (ABC News: Keana Naughton)

five people hold up a runner

Runners help a struggling participant over the line. (ABC News: Keana Naughton)

woman strains while running

Temperatures reached 30 degrees during the race, while smoke cleared in time for the event. (ABC News: Keana Naughton)

wheelchair athlete in helmet

Australian Madison de Rozario wins her first Australian marathon, 13 minutes ahead of her competitors. (ABC News: Keana Naughton)

Man smiles with arms raised

More than 17,000 participants lined up for the race, making it the largest marathon in Australia. (ABC News: Keana Naughton)

huge crowds mill about near harbour line

Thousands of people took part in the event which saw major road closures in Sydney’s CBD. (ABC News: Keana Naughton)


Hot conditions and blue skies

Temperatures reached 30 degrees along the course with the Bureau of Meteorology sending a warning to runners prior to the start at 7:10am on Sunday.

El Goumri said the heat began to take its toll 10 kilometres from the finish line.

“Those last kilometres with the weather warming up, I was getting tired. I was really feeling the heat.” 

Smoke warnings were also in affect after hazard reduction burns were carried out mid-week, dissipating before the event.

people stand on the steps of the opera house
Thousands of people watched runners cross the finish line in 30 degree heat.(ABC News: Keana Naughton )

The state’s Rural Fire Service stopped hazard burns in Sydney’s south on Thursday.   

Air quality hit very poor ratings across several suburbs including Alexandria, which had a particle pollution measurement of PM2.5 — worse than Beijing’s 2022 average, on Monday.

Health experts called on organisers to cancel the event if smoke did not clear in time.

Marathon success for Australia 

In the men’s event Laban Kipngetich Korir from Kenya came in second, with a time of 02:08:43 and Ethiopian runner Getaneh Molla Tamire crossed in 02:11:20.

wheelchair athlete smiles as she crosses the finish line ribbon
Australian Madison de Rozario claims first place in the wheelchair marathon.(ABC News: Keana Naughton )

For the female competitors, the United State’s Betsy Saina finished first, with a 02:26:46 time. 

Rahma Tusa Chota from Ethiopia finished second with 02:26:52, and Gladys Chesir Kiptagelai from Kenya rounded up the winners group with a time of 02:28:39.

Australian Madison de Rozario won the wheelchair marathon 13 minutes ahead of the second placed Kina Tsubasa from Japan.

It was the first time de Rozario competed on Australian soil, after taking out the London Marathon and second place in Boston, in April.


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