Norway has a European record-holder in the marathon after former European U23 10,000m champion Sondre Nordstad Moen created history in the Fukuoka Marathon on Sunday (3) morning, becoming the first European athlete in history to break the 2:06-barrier for the distance.
Since the IAAF World Championships in London where he failed to make it out of the 5000m heats, Moen has put in a series of eye-catching performances on the roads, including a 59:47 half marathon lifetime best in Valencia to move to third on the European all-time lists behind Mo Farah (59:22) and Antonio Pinto (59:43).
Moen, who came into the race with a lifetime best of 2:10:07 from the Hannover Marathon in April, set himself the goal of breaking the 2:08-barrier in Fukuoka. He did just that but the 26-year-old also ran himself into the history books, breaking the tape inside the Heiwadai Stadium in 2:05:48 with a sizeable negative split.
“I was confident that I could run 2:07, and on a good day perhaps even 2:06, but I did not expect 2:05," Moen told the IAAF after his record-breaking performance. "Today the weather was good and the pacers did a very good job. I had lots of energy in the closing stages of the race.”
The first European in history to break the 2:06-barrier for the marathon!
Norway's Sondre Nordstad Moen won the Fukuoka Marathon today, setting a European record of 2:05:48.
Halfway splits: 63:19/62:29. pic.twitter.com/Gb3yHd9Fjj
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) December 3, 2017
Moen was on schedule to break his lifetime best - and Norwegian record - by more than three minutes as he passed halfway in 63:19 and there was still plenty of running left in his legs. Only Moen could cover Bedan Karoki’s sustained surge at 30km but the Kenyan clearly misgauged his effort after an aggressive five kilometre split of 14:38 through the 35km checkpoint.
At this point, Moen - who was on 2:06:17 pace - held a one second lead over Karoki but finding the increase in pace no problem at all, that margin had increased to 55 seconds by the 40km checkpoint in 1:59:23 courtesy of back-to-back 5km splits of 14:37 and 14:38.
Not only was Moen on course to break the European record, he was now on schedule to become the first European athlete in history to break the 2:06-barrier for the marathon. Maintaining his pace superbly in the last 2.2km he did just that, breaking the tape in 2:05:48 to shave 48 seconds off a record jointly held by Pinto and France’s Benoit Zwierzchlewski.
And the superlatives keep on coming. His winning time was the second fastest in race history after Tsegaye Kebede's course record of 2:05:18 from 2009 and he became the first European winner since Ukraine’s Dmytro Baranovskyy in 2005.
Moen also had the beating of an excellent field with former and Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich from Uganda trailing in a distant second in 2:07:10 with Japan’s Suguru Osako third in 2:07:19. Karoki was next across the finish-line in 2:08:44.
Watch the full race here.