Lucas McAneney, the top Canadian runner at the Ottawa marathon, said even elite athletes struggle to overcome this brutal test of human endurance.

“I’ve done it so many times before,” said the 31-year old Toronto native, who credited interval training for his 11th-place finish.

In an attempt to draw more spectators, this year’s race traced a new course that took runners past Ottawa landmarks including the Prime Minister’s residence on Sussex Drive and through neighbourhoods such as Little Italy and Chinatown.

In the past three to four months, McAneney said he’s been running an average of 180 kilometres, alternating between high-mileage, short and high-speed runs.

“42K is not really much in comparison to what I’ve done in training on a weekly basis, so to get out there, grit my teeth, I mean, I’ve done it in -20 C weather, I can do it today in 15 C weather,” McAneney said.

But even ahead of McAneney by nine minutes were Laban Moiben of Kenya and Dereje Abera Ali of Ethiopia, who finished in first and second place, respectively.

Towards the home stretch, Ali burst into a faster stride and chased down Moiben, nearly breathing down his neck at the finish line. But Moiben held on, crossing the finish line in 2:10:17 — barely a second ahead of Ali, but good enough for the win.

“[I’m] happy, very happy,” Moiben said of his win.

Maybe even happier than usual, since Moiben was the runner-up in 2010. He said the race was a struggle, with his energy at 90 per cent due to high humidity and wet terrain.

But the weather didn’t deter the weekend’s roughly 40,000 participants, including an emotional McAneney.

“Gosh, I see my parents out there [at] like, 32K, and my dad started crying and I almost started crying,” McAneney said, “and then my girlfriend, I saw there — I got really emotional.”

— Photos by Adam Dietrich