Do Canto and Haji Harun win Sri Lankan Airlines Half Marathon titles in Melbourne



Australia's Thomas Do Canto raced against the clock and fatigue to cross the finish line first in the Sri Lankan Airlines Half Marathon, which was part of the 42nd Melbourne Marathon Festival held in the Australian city recently. Do Canto, who finished the gruelling 21.1 km course in 1hr 4 min and 29 seconds, outran compatriot Nic Harman who crossed over in a time of 1:04:31 to beat Brady Threlfall into third place.

Makda Haji Harun powered ahead in the women's event, winning in a breezy !:11:15 to break the tape first ahead of Tara Palm (1:11:25) and Laura Reid who finished in 1:12:35 on a day which saw a record turnout of 37,185 runners in the series of events of Australia’s biggest road running festival.

Meanwhile Kenyans Isaac Birir and Naomi Jepkogei Maiyo made it a Kenyan sweep of the men's and women's full marathon title, no doubt inspired by the recent world record breaking heroics of countryman and ace long distance runner Eliud Kipchoge, who became the first man to run the marathon in under 2 hours in Vienna, Austria. Birir finished ahead of the field in 2:16:31, while fellow Kenyan William Chebon was second in 2:17:59 and Australia's Reece Edwards third in 2:19:00.

Maiyo, who is based in the northern Kenyan town of Iten, surged ahead of the field to finish in 2: 35:34 while Australian Nera Jareb caught fellow Aussie Marnie Ponton after 30km and managed to hold her off to run 2:36.42. Ponton rounded out the winner’s podium on 02:37:21.

After the event Festival Director, Marcus Gale remarked upon the record participation numbers in 2019 as well as the funds that runners raised for worthy charities. “Today marks the biggest Marathon in the event’s 42-year history, in fact it will now be recorded in the history books as the largest ever marathon staged in Australia, with four out of the five events sold out to the public including the Full Melbourne Marathon, the Sri Lankan Airlines 21.1km Half Marathon, the ASICS 10km and Westin 5km run.

"Our numbers increased even further with an estimated 37,000 people cheering from the sidelines as participants completed their journey inside the MCG,” said Gale. “This year’s Melbourne Marathon participants raised in excess of A$1,200,000 for a huge number of deserving causes across the country including our official charity partner, Cerebral Palsy Education Centre and associate charities JMB Foundation, Australian Red Cross, Beyond Blue and the Heart Foundation,” he said. Meanwhile Saminda Perera, Senior Manager Marketing of SriLankan Airlines congratulated the winners and said that the airline would continue to support such causes in an effort to encourage sporting excellence. "Hearty congratulations to all winners and participants of the biggest Melbourne Marathon Festival ever. We at SriLankan Airlines recognize and celebrate excellence in all fields and will continue to support healthy competition in all sporting venues."

SriLankan Airlines' association with Australia and the city of Melbourne has been strengthened since the introduction of it daily direct flights to Colombo from Melbourne, which were launched in 2017. The service on the airline's state-of-the-art Airbus A330-300 aircraft, has proved to be a big hit for Australians and others looking to reach the Emerald Isle and also easily access cities across the Indian subcontinent, Indian Ocean islands and destinations in the Middle East, East and Southeast Asia.


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