Bashir Abdi wins the Rotterdam Marathon (© AFP / Getty Images)
Competing in his first race since taking bronze at the Olympic Games, Belgium’s Bashir Abdi broke the European record to win the NN Rotterdam Marathon on Sunday (24), clocking 2:03:36 at the World Athletics Elite Label road race.
At one point the 32-year-old had looked to be out of contention after two-time Rotterdam winner and course record-holder Marius Kipserem opened up a significant gap with less than 10km to go. But Abdi finished strongly to overtake the Kenyan in the closing stages before going on to win by 28 seconds.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s Stella Barsosio produced a solo effort to win the women’s race in a lifetime best of 2:22:08, improving on her runner-up finish in this race two years ago.
Most of the big contenders in the men’s race ran as a group in the early stages, passing through 10km in 29:17 before reaching the half-way point in 1:01:57, suggesting Kipserem’s course record of 2:04:11 was under threat.
Soon after reaching 25km in 1:13:33, Kipserem forged ahead and broke up the lead pack, hitting 30km with a 12-second lead over Ethiopia’s Dawit Wolde with Abdi a further five seconds in arrears.
But Abdi and Wolde caught up with Kipserem again by 35km, reached in 1:42:33, while Kenya’s Titus Kipruto was 20 seconds adrift of the lead trio.
Soon after, Abdi made his decisive move and broke away from his remaining opponents before going on to win in 2:03:36. His winning time took 40 seconds off the previous European record, set by Turkey’s Kaan Kigen Ozbilen in Valencia two years ago, and places Abdi 14th on the world all-time list.
Kipserem held on for second place in a PB of 2:04:04, inside his former course record, while Wolde took third place in 2:04:27, almost a minute ahead of Kipruto (2:05:22).
In contrast to the men’s race, the women’s contest was essentially a solo effort from Stella Barsosio. The Kenyan had opened up an 18-second lead over compatriot Bornes Kitur by 5km (16:29), which grew to more than a minute by 15km (49:27).
Barsosio’s half-way split of 1:09:33 suggested a sub-2:20 finishing time, but with no competitors to help push her, the 28-year-old’s pace dropped slightly in the second half. Nevertheless, her lead continued to grow and she had a margin of almost four minutes by the time she reached 30km in 1:39:02. Further back, Ukraine’s Natalya Lehonkova was closing on Kitur, who was starting to fade.
Barsosio went on to win comfortably in 2:22:08. Lehonkova overtook Kitur in the closing stages to take the runner-up spot in 2:30:28 while Kitur held on for third place in 2:30:41.
1 Stella Barsosio (KEN) 2:22:08
2 Natalya Lehonkova (UKR) 2:30:28
3 Bornes Kitur (KEN) 2:30:41
4 Clara Evans (GBR) 2:31:21
5 Tirza van der Wolf (NED) 2:34:52
6 Runa Skrove Falch (NOR) 2:34:57
7 Emilie Jacquot-Claude (FRA) 2:39:56
8 Marijke Visser (NED) 2:40:47
1 Bashir Abdi (BEL) 2:03:36
2 Marius Kipserem (KEN) 2:04:04
3 Dawit Wolde (ETH) 2:04:27
4 Titus Kipruto (KEN) 2:05:22
5 Emmanuel Saina (KEN) 2:05:51
6 Kebede Wami Tulu (ETH) 2:06:27
7 Limenih Getachew (ETH) 2:08:56
8 Abdellah Taghrafet (MAR) 2:09:40