Portugal's Sara Moreira and Abraham Tadesse, of Switzerland, won the first European Athletics half marathon titles in Amsterdam today - and celebrated double gold as they led their nations to the team crowns too.
On a morning that combined everything which is wonderful about athletics - glorious weather, a fantastic setting, an iconic finish, brilliant crowds and particularly a series of outstanding performances - Moreira and Tadesse ran away from their rivals for two impressive victories.
And at the end, as she passed under the Rijksmuseum with the winning line yards away, grabbing a Portuguese flag, Moreira just could not control her emotions.
She triumphed in 1:10:19 and burst into tears.
"I was crying for my baby back home," Moreira told European Athletics afterwards. "He would be watching and all my emotion came out. It is one of the best days of my career."
Her son Guilherme is three later this year and what a present mum has to take home to him, two gold medals after she was brilliantly supported by teammates Jessica Augusto and Dulce Felix, the 10,000m silver medallist.
Moreira won by 16 seconds from Italy's Veronica Inglese with Augusto in third (1:10:55) and Felix in 12th (1:12:39), bringing Portugal a gold medal time of 3:33:53 from Italy (3:36:38) and Turkey (3:39:59), whose leading runner was Esma Aydemir in fifth (1:11:49).
— Sara Reis (@sararsreis) July 10, 2016
Moreira, the 2013 European indoor 3000m champion and triple team gold medallist at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships, was always among the favourites for an event which was a glorious way to start the last day of these 23rd European Athletics Championships.
Athletics is always evolving and the introduction of the half marathon, with both races followed by a mass race; The Brooks 10K Champions Run, proved a real hit
Inglese took the early lead on a course that started at the Rijksmuseum and made its way through the city, with the runners crossing a series of canals and through some of Amsterdam's major tourist spots.
With the constant shots from the helicopter above, and the sun's glare rebounding off the water, the event painted its own picture.
But down on the ground Moreira, 30, was not rushing as Inglese was joined in front by Turkey's Sultan Haydar.
The two leaders went through 5km in 16:26 with Moreira just five seconds behind but by 10km, the Portuguese was sharing top spot with Haydar in 33:06, with Inglese trailing them by a second.
Haydar had slipped down the field by 15km, with Moreira just in front of Inglese before she stepped on the gas, quickly establishing an eight-second lead which was never going to be made up as the winning margin grew.
"It's a beautiful day," said Moreira. "I also ran in the 10,000m (she did not finish) but that didn't go well, so I’m delighted with this result. We have a good team here."
Inglese said: "I was sixth in the 10,000m and got my personal best in both events, so I am happy."
Tadesse was never out of the leading group in the men's race, where he eventually asserted his authority to win in 1:02:03 from Turkey's Kaan Kigen Ozbilen (1:02:27) and Italian Daniele Meucci (1:02.38).
With Tadesse's compatriots Julien Lyon in 15th (1:04.40) and Adrian Lehmann in 26th (1:05.21), Switzerland narrowly took team gold in 3:12:04, from Spain in 3:12:06, with their best finisher being Carles Castillejo (eighth in 1:03:52), and Italy third (3:12:41).
Tadesse, Azerbaijan's Evans Kiplagat and Ozbilen made the early break, before they were joined by Meucci and the medals were always going to be decided between this quartet.
Meucci had the edge with a six second lead as he went through 10km in 14:50 but by 15km it was a two-way battle between Ozbilen and Tadesse.
Then Tadesse took control, making a decisive break and he never looked back.
He said: "I know the Turkish athlete well and know he is fast over 10,000m. My tactics were to follow him at the start and stay with him.
"In the last eight kilometres I would see if I had the energy to go away. I noticed that he was looking back at lot, so I decided to run away."
Ozbilen said: "The course was not as easy as I thought. Amsterdam is a flat city but there were ups and downs. I am happy to be here. It was a good experience competing with the team."