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Too, Macharia victorious in Dublin Marathon

Dublin Marathon 2014

27th October 2014 – The Kenyan duo of Eliud Too and Esther Macharia were winners in Monday’s Dublin Marathon.

Whereas Too, was a comfortable winner in the windy conditions, particularly over the last part of the course, winning in 2:14:47, his compatriot Macharia had to work far harder to secure her victory in 2:34:15. Ireland’s Maria McCambridge, the 2013 defending champion, did not want to relinquish her title without a fight. The Kenyan Women’s title winner was too strong and held the charging McCambridge by 4 seconds.

Dublin Marathon 2014 Report from Race Organisers

Not many runners reach the finish of a marathon praying for more. But for Maria McCambridge, 26 miles and 385 yards possibly wasn’t long enough, leaving her four seconds short of another outright women’s victory in the Dublin Marathon.

Another few hundred yards might have made the difference. As McCambridge was closing – and closing fast – on Kenya’s Esther Macharia. Just not fast enough, however, as Macharia held on for victory, clocking 2:34:15, and with that the top prize of €10,000.

Not that McCambridge had many complaints. Her 2:34:19 improved her lifetime best by one minute and nine seconds, and at age 39, perhaps further proof that her best years might still be ahead of her, preferably as far as the Rio Olympics 2016.

As the first Irish women’s finisher, winning her fourth National Marathon title, McCambridge earned a €3,000 bonus plus a €7,000 runner-up prize. So financially she came away on a dead heat with Macharia.

It came off arguably a tougher Dublin course than recent years too (due to the Luas works) and definitely off windier conditions than when McCambridge ran her previous best of 2:35:28 in Dublin, back in 2012. Last year, she was the outright Dublin winner, partly due to the absence of any elite overseas runners, yet this was still the best marathon of her life, and deep down she knew it.

Absolute all
“Yeah, it’s a happy disappointment, definitely,” she said, knowing – and indeed looking as if – she had given her absolute all. “At 25 miles, I could see her (Macharia) just up the road, and just kept saying to myself ‘leave everything out here, empty it until the line, have no regrets. . .’

“So I just closed my eyes, and ran as hard as I could. I couldn’t really see, anyway. The wind was blowing my contact lenses out of my eyes, and I couldn’t make much out. The wind was very, very strong too, and blowing all over the place.

“I could see the back of Macharia’s vest for the last mile, and that’s all I focused on. I just couldn’t get onto her shoulder. I really, really wanted to win it, and really felt I could. I would have been lovely to have won Dublin twice, back-to-back.”

Yet McCambridge may well have timed her effort as best she could. She held back from the lead group, initially, but joined up with them around halfway – passed in 1:16:30. She then tested the lot, easing into the front, with only Macharia capable of going with her, as the Ethiopian Meseret Godana began to drop off, as well as another Kenya, Scola Kiptoo. Both of those finished a well back, Godana holding on for third in 2:38:53, over four minutes behind McCambridge.

Cat and mouse
“At 13 miles, I was so wary of going to the front,” added McCambridge. “It was a lot of cat and mouse after that. At 20 miles, we were still together, then she surged a little, coming up Milltown hill. I thought to myself she doesn’t know about the Clonskeagh hill, and I’d reel her in, but then I felt a little exposed, myself, running on my own. I just kept chasing, chasing. The gap was around 80, 100 metres, then at 25 miles I just realised I had to go now, if I was still going to do anything.”

So, that finish at Merrion Square came just a little too soon. It wasn’t long until she’d fully recovered, however, to twice take her place on the marathon podium: as runner-up, then National Marathon champion – second in that race going to Pauline Curley from Tullamore, who was eighth overall in 2:48:02, with Dublin’s Ailish Malone ninth in 2:48:48.

Now coached by Chris Jones, head of endurance at Athletics Ireland, McCambridge has unquestionably found a new lease in her running life, partly explained by the fact she trains longer, harder on her hard days, but more importantly shorter, easier, on her easy days. Although she’ll be 41 by the time Rio rolls around, she’s clearly given herself enough incentive to continue.

“On the perfect day, with perfect conditions, I think I was in 2:31 shape. But I really have fallen in love with the marathon all over again. Before this summer I was really beating myself up in training, every day. It just took me all this time to realise that. It’s still a long way to Rio, but I want to run faster, want to run another marathon. And that’s definitely a nice feeling to finish with.”

They really do need to start erecting a warning sign at 20 miles: marathon starts here. Because, not for the first time, that’s where the Dublin Marathon got going.

It was where Eliud Too hit the front, and Dmitry Safronov hit the wall. For everybody it was where the wind seemed to hit them straight in the face.

It was definitely where the race for victory was won and lost, as Too, who trailed Safronov by nearly three minutes at half-way, cruised on to the finish, winning in 2:14:47.

It was only the second marathon for the 26-year-old from Kenya, who found himself in Dublin via Le Chéile AC in Leixlip, and his assistant coach and mentor, Neil Fleming.

Safronov held on bravely for third, the Russian clocking 2:15:12, with another Kenyan Paul Kimutai second man home in 2:14:56. First Irishman – or soon-to-be-adopted Irishman – was Sergiu Ciobanu, a native of Moldova resident here since 2006, who was fifth overall in 2:21:01

If Too was a somewhat surprise winner he didn’t necessarily see it that way. He wasn’t even listed among the elite runners, entering himself like everybody else. Yet he certainly looked the part, and comfortable at the finish, immediately paying tribute to Fleming, and Le Chéile AC, whose club singlet he wore to victory.

It’s a slightly roundabout story: Fleming, who now works in exercise physiology at Indiana University, credits one of his American students, James Walters, for first discovering Too, after he went to Kenya on a student placement.

“There are so many Kenyans running in Iten, so many fall through the cracks, and Too is really an unpolished diamond,” explained Fleming. “He ran the Cleveland Marathon last May, finishing second, and when it came to his second marathon Dublin was perfect. He’s been staying with my parents in Leixlip for the last two weeks. He’s not officially a Le Chéile member, but an honorary member, definitely.”

€10,000 prize
The Kenyan earned himself a tidy €10,000 for his efforts, and spoke eloquently of where that money might go: “We’re 10 in the family. My three sisters are all married. My parents are getting older, and I have many brothers coming behind me, who need to go to school. We’re farmers, only to feed ourselves, from a humble background. So I will spend the money well.”

He was eloquent in motion too, slowing closing the gap on Safronov between miles 13-20: once he passed the Russian, outside O’Shea’s pub in Clonskeagh, he never looked in danger.

By then, Ciobanu looked safe as the first Irish finisher. The 31-year-old, now living in Clonmel, coached by Jerry Kiernan, and running with Clonliffe since 2006, is now on the brink of receiving Irish citizenship.

“I would love to run for Ireland soon. I’ve been feeling Irish for a long time now. I’m going out with an Irish girl too, Eimear. We’re getting on well and we have plans.”

Completing the top Irish finishers was Barry Minnock from Athlone, ninth overall in 2:22: 42, and Dublin’s Eoin Flynn, who, at 34, ran a lifetime best of 2:25:01. Patrick Monaghan from Naas set a record in the wheelchair race at 1:52:53, clear of Paul Hannon (2:05:56), and Luke Jones (2:09:33).

Dublin Marathon results:


1. Eliud Too (Kenya) 2:14:47
2. Paul Koech Kimutai (Kenya) 2:14:56
3. Dimitry Safronov (Russia) 2:15:12

Irish Men

1. Segiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers) 2:21:01
2. Barrry Minnock (Rathfarnham WSAF) 2:22:42
3. Eoin Flynn (Rathfarnham WSAF) 2:25:01


1. Esther Macharia (Kenya) 2:34:15
2. Maria McCambridge (Ireland) 3:34:19
3. Meseret Godana (Ethopia) 2:38:53

Irish Women

1. Maria McCambridge (Dundrum South Dublin) 2:34:19
2. Pauline Curley (Tullamore) 2:48:02
3. Ailish Malone (Clonliffe Harriers) 2:48:48


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