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Sydney University Athletic Club distance runner Alex Matthews was crowned Australian and NSW marathon champion for 2013 after competing in the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival on Sunday.

The Sydney Marathon doubled as the Australian and NSW Marathon Championship, with Matthews finishing eighth overall over the 42.2km course in a personal best time of 2:25.32 to claim the Australian and NSW crowns.

Kenyan Willy Kotie won the marathon in 2:13.48, ahead of El Hassane Ben Lkhainouch of France (2:14.28) and South African Lucky Mohale (2:15.58) third.

Koitile was too strong for his rivals in the closing stages, putting 30 seconds on Ben Lkhainouch and almost a minute on Mohale between the 35km and 40km marks after there had been seven runners in the lead pack at the halfway point.

The women’s event was won by Ethiopian Biruktait Degefa, who clocked 2:32.46 to slash almost six minutes from the race record of 2:38.11 set in 2001 by Australian Krishna Stanton.

Degefa’s compatriot Workitu Ayanu Gurma finished second in 2:33.20, with Kenya’s Irene Mogaka third in 2:38.20. Currumbin Waters’ athlete Sharon Ryder (3:01.43) finished sixth overall to win the Australian crown.

SUAC’s Heidi Smith was the second athlete home in the NSW Championship, leading an SUAC team that finished second in the Athletics NSW teams event, Jaime Auton was sixth with Margie Attard seventh for SUAC.

The result for SUAC’s women means they lead the Winter Premiership by 24 points with one event remaining. A finishing placing better than 20th at the final event on the calendar, the Fernleigh 15, will see the women win a historic first Winter Premiership victory and give SUAC the rare double of winning both the men’s and women’s senior categories ( the men having already wrapped up the winter premiership).

Also at the Sydney Running festival SUAC’s Milly Clark continued her phenomenal season in the 9km Bridge Run, finishing second, with SUAC’s Melinda Witchard in 10th place.

In the men’s half marathon race, the ageless Peter Costello ran a very credible sixth for SUAC.

An SUAC men’s team travelled to Melbourne at the weekend to contest the Tan Relays. The injury-ravaged team finished a respectable fifth having led the race for a brief period mid-way through.

The team of Neil Berry, Jack Colreavy, Hugh Williams, Miles Waring, Drew Hoare and Andrew Heil held off a spirited challenge from the University of Melbourne team for the second consecutive year to remain the dominant University club at this event.

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