Abdi improves Belgian record to 2:06:14 in Chicago Marathon

Bashir Abdi
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Belgium's Bashir Abdi continues his successful transition up to the marathon by finishing fifth in the Chicago Marathon in a national record of 2:06:14

European 10,000m silver medallist Bashir Abdi shaved nearly one minute from his Belgian record to finish fifth in the Chicago Marathon on Sunday (13) in 2:06:14 to move to fourth on the European all-time list.

Abdi was the leading European finisher in Chicago, finishing almost four minutes ahead of his training partner and reigning champion Mo Farah. Abdi and Farah were running side-by-side for much of the middle section of the race but the Brit began to lose ground on Abdi and lose sight of the leading pack between 25 and 30 kilometres. 

Abdi made up tremendous ground on the leaders in the last seven kilometres. The Belgian was still 1:22 behind a leading sextet which included eventual winner Lawrence Cherono from Kenya at the 35-kilometre checkpoint but Abdi made a late charge to finish fifth in 2:06:14, just 29 seconds behind Cherono who won in 2:05:45 for his second big city win of the season after Boston in April.

Farah, who clocked a European record of 2:05:11 to win in Chicago last year, faded to eighth this year in 2:09:58 - his slowest marathon to date. 

Behind a sensational world record of 2:14:04 for Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei which displaced Paula Radcliffe’s seemingly untouchable mark of 2:15:25, Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack smashed through the 2:30-barrier for the first time in her career. 

The former two-time SPAR European cross country champion finished fifth in 2:26:47 to move to second on the Irish all-time list behind Catherina McKiernan’s national record of 2:22:23. 

Henrik Ingebrigtsen proves prolific across surfaces

It was quite a weekend for Norway’s Henrik Ingebrigtsen. On Saturday, he was one of the pacemakers in Vienna as Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge made history by becoming the first man to break two hours for the marathon and then on Sunday he was celebrating a title of his own in extraordinary circumstances.

As his flight back to Oslo for the Norwegian Cross Country Championships was delayed, Ingebrigtsen had to change on the plane to be ready for action.

And from soaring in the air to soaring to glory, he was crowned the 10km champion as he won in 30:01, a victory by just over six seconds from defending champion Didrik Tonseth. “It was a crazy atmosphere in Vienna but there was an equally good atmosphere here,” said Ingebrigtsen, speaking to vg.no, as he won in front of a large crowd at Frogner Park. 

Ingebrigtsen was second as the race entered the latter stages as Tonseth - primarily a cross country skier - was having another good run and set the early pace. 

When Ingebrigtsen went in front, Tonseth initially stayed with him but the European indoor 3000m bronze medallist had too much for him as he went away to win.

There was success in the women’s race for fellow Nordic skier Terese Johaug as she showed her endurance and power to triumph over 6km in 19:43. Johaug also won the Norwegian 10,000m title this summer and is considering competing at the Paris 2020 European Athletics Championships in August. 

Swedish cross country titles decided; cross country season kicks off in Great Britain

In Umea, Samrawit Mengisteab had a Swedish Cross Country Championships to remember as she achieved a superb double, winning the 10km in 35:30 and the 4km in 13:45. 

Napoleon Solomon finished second and the first domestic runner in the men’s 10km. He crossed the line in 30:55, seven seconds behind winner Samuel Tsegay, of Eritrea. 

Cardiff was the setting for the first stage of the British Athletics Cross Challenge series, with Marc Scott winning the men’s senior race and Charlotte Arter taking the women’s title.

Scott won in 29:21 from Mahamed Mahamed in 29:27 and Arter beat her Cardiff clubmate Jenny Nesbitt - 21:31 to 21:58.

The focus for many European athletes will now be on the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon in December. Scott said: “They are in the back of my mind. I’ll have to speak to my coach first but we’ve got it pencilled in.”

On a busy weekend of marathons, there was home success across Europe. In Cologne, Germany’s Deborah Schoneborn made a winning debut in 2:31:18 and Hendrik Pfeiffer triumphed in the men’s race in 2:15:19. 

Amanal Petros, who is planning to make his full marathon debut in Valencia in December, won the adjoining half marathon in 65:43. 

Richard Lewis for European Athletics