The Sydney Marathon has boasted a record number of participants with thousands turning out to pound the pavement on a warm spring Sunday morning.
More than 17,000 runners registered to tackle Sunday’s gruelling 42km course, the figure more than double the number who took part in Australia’s previous biggest marathon, held in Melbourne in 2019 with 8100 runners.
But the record number produced ‘crazy’ scenes under the Harbour Bridge where the toilets were.
In somewhat gross scenes, one runner posted a video on social media of the queues that had formed at the toilets, with thousands of people waiting to use the pop-up loos.
“Crazy! Queuing for toilets at 2023 Sydney Marathon,” the runner wrote (watch the video).
The marathon doubles as the Australian marathon championship and Sinead Diver and Brett Robinson battled unseasonably hot weather to win the national titles.
Diver, 46, was the first Australian across the line in the women’s race in eighth spot in two hours 31 minutes 27 seconds, nearly nine minutes ahead of fellow Victorian Kate Mason.
The race was won by Kenyan Betsy Saina in 2:26:47.
The next six runners home were all African nationals.
The elite men’s race produced an even more dominant performance by the African contingent, headed by Moroccan winner Othmane El Goumri (2:08:20).
Robinson, 32, was the first non-African finisher in eighth spot in 2:23:05 – more than 15 minutes slower than the national record he set late last year in Japan.
Australian paralympian champion Madison de Rozario was first across the line in her wheelchair event.
The event was vying for inclusion as an Abbott World Marathon Major, alongside iconic races in New York, Boston, Chicago, London, Tokyo and Berlin.
Last year, Sydney became the first marathon in the southern hemisphere to be given Platinum Label status by World Athletics, and it is now in its second year of a three-year candidacy period to become a major marathon.
Tourism Minister John Graham said Sydney had a long history of hosting major international sporting events.
“No city in the world has a greater combination of natural beauty and iconic infrastructure for hosting a marathon than Sydney,” he said.
“With so many incredible vantage points and entertainment hubs added to the event, the Sydney Marathon is going to provide a festival atmosphere for spectators and runners.”
Runners were met with warm temperatures with Sydney a comfortable 20C at about 7am.
The temperature rose later in the morning, with the city expected to reach a top of 30C on Sunday.
NSW Police warned Sydney would be busy because of the marathon and reminded people to adhere to heat messages, keep their cool and look out for each other.
The Bureau of Meteorology was predicting heatwave temperatures for the NSW South Coast in coming days.
NSW Police had not recorded any major incidents at the marathon.
The event included five races – a half and full marathon, a wheelchair marathon, a 10km bridge run and a family fun run.
To help raise the marathon’s profile, four spectator sites were set up in Pyrmont, The Rocks, Surry Hills and Moore Park.
The sites offered free coffee, food trucks, custom sign workshops, DJs, drag queen performances, prize giveaways and large screens broadcasting the marathon live.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge, Cahill Expressway and Western Distributor were to be closed from 4am to 10am on Sunday.
The Sydney Harbour Tunnel will remain open but extensive delays are expected.