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Kenyan pair come out on top at sold-out Perth Running Festival, Premier Roger Cook among huge crowd

Rebecca Le MayThe West Australian
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Ten thousand keen sprinters have taken part in the sold-out Perth Running Festival, with the Kenyan winner of the 42.2km marathon finishing in an impressive 2 hours 20 minutes.
Camera IconTen thousand keen sprinters have taken part in the sold-out Perth Running Festival, with the Kenyan winner of the 42.2km marathon finishing in an impressive 2 hours 20 minutes. Credit: The West Australian

Ten thousand keen athletes have taken part in the sold-out Perth Running Festival, with the Kenyan winner of the 42.2km marathon finishing in an impressive 2 hours 20 minutes.

Samuel Ekutan was the victor of the race, which was part of four on Sunday and was WA’s largest marathon ever, taking runners along the Swan River, over the Matagarup Bridge, through Burswood Park and finishing inside Optus Stadium, where a big crowd watched on.

WATCH THE PERTH RUNNING FESTIVAL ON DEMAND

Mr Ekutan is visiting Perth for the first time with fellow Kenyan Janet Komen, who took out the top position for women in the marathon, completing in 2 hours 43 minutes, which secured her the overall 15th position.

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After arriving in Perth early on Saturday morning, Mr Ekutan said everyone in Perth had been “so friendly” while Ms Komen said she would love to come work in Australia after her running career, adding “this place is magic”.

Dean Menzies, who came second with a time of 2 hours 29 minutes, said it was an “incredible event”, the first after two were held pre-COVID.

Samuel Ekutan completed the 42.2km marathon in an impressive 2 hours 20 minutes.
Camera IconSamuel Ekutan completed the 42.2km marathon in an impressive 2 hours 20 minutes. Credit: Unknown/Streamer

The winner of a 21.1km half marathon was Matthew Ramsden - whose Commonwealth Games campaign was derailed by COVID last year - clocked 1 hour 4 minutes, while Kate Baker achieved the best result for a female competitor at 1 hour 19 minutes, putting her in 15th place overall.

Paul Nash of events partner Corporate Sports Australia said Mr Ramsden’s feat was the fastest half-marathon ever run in WA.

Ms Baker’s running achievements included winning the Asics Bridges Fun Run in April and finishing in 12th place at last month’s Blackmores Sydney Marathon.

“I only signed up on Thursday,” Ms Baker said after crossing the finish line.

“I didn’t know how I’d feel after Sydney Mararthon but so glad I did. That was tough but I’m really proud.”

There was also a 10km race, won by Dan Canala, who recorded a time of 30 minutes 45 seconds.

Ben, Jasper, Gemima and Emily Clarke took part in the 2023 Perth Running Festival which started and finished at Optus Stadium.
Camera IconBen, Jasper, Gemima and Emily Clarke took part in the 2023 Perth Running Festival which started and finished at Optus Stadium. Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

Nera Jareb was the best performing female in that event, finishing in 35 minutes 48 seconds, giving her an overall position of ninth.

The top result for the Burswood Park 4km Dash was 9 minutes 47 seconds, achieved by Thomas Moorcroft, while Sian Munks was the fastest female in the event, completing in 11 minutes 35 seconds for the overall ninth position.

“These were fast times, especially in these conditions - it was hot and humid,” Mr Nash said.

He said runners from 36 nations took part - coming from as far afield as Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, Mexico, Ireland and China - and also from every Australian State and Territory.

“The event was capped at 10,000 this year and we’re looking to grow it next year,” Mr Nash said.

“We want to try and tap into the South East Asian running community.”

Premier Roger Cook took part in the half marathon, posting photos of his efforts on social media.

“What a spot for a run - right through the heart of our beautiful city and finishing up at Optus Stadium,” he wrote.

Premier Roger Cook completed the half marathon in the Perth Running Festival.
Camera IconPremier Roger Cook completed the half marathon in the Perth Running Festival. Credit: Unknown/Facebook

“And it’s all for a good cause.

“The fundraising from today will go straight to Telethon, so they can keep helping our youngest West Aussies who need it most.

“Well done everyone.”

Every child who completed the Education Minister’s Running Challenge in the lead up to the marathon by completing a weekly fitness challenge got free entry to the 4km Dash, enjoying the thrill of seeing themselves on the big screen as they crossed the finish line.

“Optus Stadium is not just for rock stars and elite athletes, it was built for everybody, and to see so many people running onto the field and getting to experience something that very few people get to experience, that’s what it’s all about,” Mr Nash said.

Education Minister Tony Buti said it was great to have the festival back and terrific to see so many West Australians from all walks of life turn out.

“I was particularly pleased to see many of the school students from the Education Minister’s Running Challenge taking part,” Dr Buti said.

“I know how important running has been in my life and I’m thrilled to see a new generation embracing the challenge and taking control of their health and wellbeing.”

The event was streamed live on Streamer, is supported by Seven West Media and is a major fundraiser for Telethon.

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