Commonwealth Champion Richie Gardiner wrote his name in the history books as he recorded his fifth Welsh Marathon title - equalling the record of Tom Richards and Ron Franklin back in the 50s and 60s - in the Virgin London Marathon.
Gardiner, hoping for a 2.18 personal best, struggled early on but hung in there with the thought of another Welsh title to finish in 2.23:40, in 35th position overall. Behind Richie, Steven Rees of Port Talbot was rewarded with the silver medal after knocking four and a half minutes off his PB to run 2.30:27. The bronze medal went to last year's Welsh Champion Paul Halford of Werrington Joggers. Pre-race favourite Alex Hains of Cardiff, competing in his first marathon and looking for around 2.16, was left disappointed; having missed a few weeks of training due to a back injury and lack of long runs, Hains was struggling by halfway and called it a day at the 16 mile mark. Rob Samuel, struggling to recover from bronchitis, bravely ran to the finish in 2.36:28.
There were good performances from the Welsh women, with Sally Wilder of San Domenico breaking 3 hours for the first time and winning her maiden Welsh title. Sally ran 3.00:32 in the Gloucester Marathon in January but ran two minutes faster today to record 2.58:28. Behind Sally, there was a personal best also for Aberdare's Kelly Morgan. Kelly knocked 10 minutes off her PB to realise her recent club move to train with Richie Gardiner's group is paying off. Catherine Hewitt of Wrexham finished 3rd in the Welsh Championships in 3.10:28, just two seconds ahead of Parc Brynbach's Nicola Gething.
The overall race saw once again Kenyans storm to victory as the best field ever assembled hit the roads of the capital today. The weather forecast all week had been dim but athletes awoke to see bright sunshine, although cool and breezy conditions. At the front end of the field, African dominance continued as many countries used this race as an Olympic selection event. An anticipated World Record attempt fell apart with athletes more concerned with gaining selection than race times. Pacemakers were put in place for 3 groups of athletes, with many Brits hoping for a sub 2.12 performance; however, the group broke up early on with many having poor runs or dropping out.
Running along the Embankment, Kenya's Wilson Kipsang looked strong into the headwind and won with the second fastest time on this course, 2.04:44 - over 2 minutes clear of Martin Lel (Kenya) who had a sprint finish to the line with Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede 2.06:51 to 2.06:53.
Mary Keitany of Kenya stormed to a Kenyan record of 2.18:37, pulling clear with four miles to go and retaining her title. Behind her, Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo took silver and bronze as the first 5 women were all Kenyan.
With Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi already selected for the British Olympic team, only one place remained up for grabs. Jo Pavey sat this race out, but with Clare Hallissey clocking 2.27:44 and the Steve Jones-coached athlete, Freya Murray, running 2.28:10 she will have to wait on the selectors decision.
With the London Marathon being part of the RunWales Series, Sally Wilder now sits comfortably on top of the table with her 100 points for todays race while Richie Gardiner moves up to 4th in the mens table.
Full results available here.