A record-breaking number of runners kicked off the largest marathon in Australia’s history on Sunday as scorching heatwave conditions rock the NSW capital.
A short video posted to X (formerly Twitter) captured massive queues for the public toilets.
Despite concerns over soaring heat and smoke haze, the weather remained mostly clear and didn’t affect athletes, event organisers said.
Morocco’s Othmane El Goumri emerged as the winner of the men’s race, speeding in at a time of time of 2:08:20.
The long-distance runner beat Kenya’s Laban Korir and Ethiopia’s Getaneh Molla Tamire, who came in second and third respectively.
Canberra-born runner Brett Robinson came in ninth place, with a net time of 2:23:04.
Former Kenyan and now USA runner Betsy Saina, who has plans to enter the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, secured the win for the women’s race with a time of 2:26:47.
Ms Saine came in just a few milliseconds ahead of Ethiopia’s Rahma Chota and Kenya’s Gladys Kiptegai, who came in third with a time of 2:28:41.
Australia’s Sinead Diver, who has reportedly struggled with injuries, finished eighth with a time of 2:31:27.
The marathon went ahead despite high temperatures being forecast for Sydney amid a pending heatwave.
Hazard reduction burns were suspended to relieve the smoky haze across the capital days before the major event.
— John (@John33806700) September 16, 2023
Marathon Race director Wayne Larden said organisers put out an extra “drinks station” and three ice stations in the middle of the course to help struggling athletes cope with rising heat
“The safety and wellbeing of our participants is our highest priority,” he said in a statement.
“We are working closely with key stakeholders, including the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) to ensure the highest safety standards are implemented.”
NSW Health’s Executive Director of Health Protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty urged people to take precautions given a recent spike in asthma attacks.
“Simple precautions can reduce the risk of heat-related illness. It's important you do not allow yourself to become too hot or dehydrated by minimising physical activity outdoors during the day and staying well hydrated by drinking water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty before drinking water,” Dr McAnulty said.
“It's best to try and avoid the heat of the day by staying indoors and keeping curtains and blinds shut early. If you don’t have airconditioning, using a fan, wetting your skin with a sponge, spray or water-soaked towel can help to keep you cool.