Kenyan runner Philemon Rono ran a historic Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday, crossing the finish line at 2:06:51 — winning the race and setting a new record for the fastest marathon run on Canadian soil.
The previous all-comers record, which is the fastest performance attained within a country without regard for the nationality of the runner, was 2:06:54, set by Ethiopian runner Yemane Tsegay in 2014.
Rono, who also won last year, slashed this time by just three seconds, earning him an extra $50,000 in prize money for setting a new record. He will return to Kenya with $115,000.
The finish time was also a personal best for Rono.
"I was feeling good today," he told reporters at the finish line.
"This is very, very good and great achievement to me."
His victory today was drastically different from last year's race. Moments before the start, Rono was knocked out by a guard rail which fell on his head while he was stretching. He went on to run anyway, crossing the finish line with a 2:08:27 race.
Canadian cross-country star finishes 9th
Canadian newcomer Trevor Hofbauer, who trains with the Guelph, Ont.-based Speed River Track Club, made his marathon debut Sunday, finishing ninth with a time of 2:18:05.
The 25-year-old Calgary native secured Canada's Marathon Championship title as he crossed the finish line with a fist pump and screams of triumph.
"It was one of the most positive experiences I've had in any race," he said after the marathon.
Hofbauer was first thrust into the spotlight last year when he finished third at the Canadian Cross-Country Championships. This earned him a spot on Canada's team for the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda, last March. He was Canada's top finisher there, placing 71st overall in the senior men's race.
His results from his first marathon finish have many speculating online that he may be Canada's next marathon star.
Ethiopian Marta Megra wins women's title
The overall winner of the women's race was Marta Megra of Ethiopia, who finished with a time of 2:28:17.
Megra told reporters, through a translator, "I am happy to win the race."
This was Megra's first time competing at the Toronto marathon. She noted the first part of the course was easy, adding after 30-kilometres "the course was too tough."
Leslie Sexton is Canada's fastest woman
Leslie Sexton of London, Ont., won Canada's Marathon Championship title for the first time in her career. She finished fifth overall in the women's elite field after sitting out last year due to injury.
I'm reading everyone's messages and comments on social media and I'm tearing up here! All of you, thank you so much!— @LeslieSexton
In 2015, Sexton finished second in the Canadian Marathon Championships, but ran a personal best of 2:33:23. The 30-year-old finished with a time of 2:35:43 on Sunday.
Ed Whitlock's legacy remembered
Late running superstar Ed Whitlock of Milton, Ont., who famously smashed several senior running records was honoured at the Toronto marathon on Sunday.
The octogenarian and champion runner was lauded for finishing marathons in about the time of many runners half his age.
Whitlock set a world record for his age group during last year's race when he was 85 years old. He finished the marathon in just 3:56:33.
- 85-year-old Ed Whitlock sets world record at Toronto marathon
He died of prostate cancer in March, a week after his 86th birthday.
Whitlock remains the first and only runner in the world over 70 years old to run a sub-three-hour marathon. He accomplished this in Toronto in 2003. He is also the oldest man ever to run a marathon in under four hours.
These records were honoured with a minute of silence at the start of Sunday's race. A special pace group also ran in the same time he did. Toronto runner Ben Kaplan led the pace he set last year.
Two other runners, Noel Guy and Nick Crocker, ran his other most recognized marathon record times — the 2:54:49 pace he set at age 73 in Toronto and a time of 3:15:54 he set at age 80.
His world records were also commemorated on a tribute wall where participants and fans wrote handwritten messages. A display of memorabilia, including Whitlock's famous faded teal singlets, scuffed Brookes running shoes, medals, trophies and photos accompanied the wall.
25,000 runners participated
Around 25,000 people ran in the three races that were part of the 28th annual Toronto marathon.
A total of 4,944 people registered for the marathon, 11,372 for the half-marathon and 8,077 for the five-kilometre race.
An earlier version of this story stated that it was the 18th annual Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. In fact, it is in its 28th year.Oct 23, 2017 1:33 PM ET