Mo Farah finished fifth in the Virgin Money London Marathon today (28) but the summer could bring a return to the track.
For long periods Farah looked on course to break the European record he set when he won in Chicago in October in 2:05:11 but the final stages proved too much and he crossed the line in a still-impressive 2:05:39 as Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge became the first man to win the race four times.
The world record-holder was outstanding again winning in the second fastest time in history in 2:02:37 from Ethiopians Mosinet Geremew, second in an Ethiopian record of 2:02:55 to move to second on the world all-time lists, and Mule Wasihun third in 2:03:16.
Third here last year, Farah will now decide what to do at the IAAF World Championships in Doha in September, though his time has qualified him for both that and the Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer.
Farah retired from the track after the IAAF World Championships in London in 2017 when he won 10,000m gold and silver in the 5000m but the four-time Olympic champion could be back on the surface where he racked up so many times at both continental and global level.
Four European athletes finished inside the top-10 of the men's race in the #LondonMarathon
5 Farah 2:05:39
7 Abdi 2:07:03
9 Rachik 2:08:05
10 Hawkins 2:08:14
Abdi broke the 24-year-old Belgian record and Hawkins broke the 30-year-old Scottish record! pic.twitter.com/zFqgTLWeTH
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) April 28, 2019
"I felt great early on, the aim was to follow the pacemaker. After 20 miles, the gap was there and somehow it was harder to close. My aim was to reel them back and not let them get too far. They are incredible times. My result I am disappointed in as training is going well."
As for the summer ahead, he added: "At the minute my brain is all over the place. If I had done better today, and won the race, it is a different story. I want to do a marathon, why run today. But at the same time, I gave it all.”
And after his third-place finish in 2018 when he broke the British record with 2:06:21, next came the European record as he celebrated his first triumph over the distance at the Chicago Marathon, eclipsing Norwegian Sondre Nordstad Moen's time of 2:05:48.
National records and fast times highlight top-10 results
Farah's performance was not the only notable result by a European athlete as there were four European finishers inside the top-10 in the men's race. Farah's training partner Bashir Abdi broke Vincent Rousseau's long-standing Belgian record with a seventh place finish in 2:07:03 in just the second marathon of his career.
Italy's Yassine Rachik and Great Britain's Callum Hawkins were locked together for most of the last 12 kilometres and both of them were rewarded with their first sub-2:10 performances. Rachik, who won a bronze medal at the European Championships last year, improved from 2:12:09 to 2:08:05 to finish ninth while Hawkins broke the 30-year-old Scottish record in tenth in 2:08:14.
In the women's race, Carla Salome Rocha took the plaudits from a European perspective with an eighth-place finish in 2:24:47 to move to third on the Portuguese all-time lists behind Rosa Mota (2:23:29) and Jessica Augusto (2:24:25).
— Virgin Money London Marathon (@LondonMarathon) April 28, 2019
Charlotte Purdue, the first European finisher in the marathon at the IAAF World Championships in London two years ago, put the memories of a 2018 season which was ruined by illness and injury behind her with a tenth-place finish in 2:25:38, improving her lifetime best by nearly four minutes.
Like Rocha, Purdue slots into third on her domestic all-time list behind world record-holder Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25) and Mara Yamauchi (2:23:12).
There was also a national record for Moldova as Lilia Fisikovici improved her best ever time to 2:27:26.
Fast times for Faniel and Dossena in Padua
In the Padua Marathon on Sunday, there were fast times and podium finishes for the Italian runners in the adjoining half marathon.
In the men’s race, Eyob Faniel moved to fifth on the Italian all-time list - just one place behind 2004 Olympic champion Stefano Baldini - with a second-place finish in 60:53 behind Kenya’s William Sitonik in 60:52. In the women’s race, Sara Dossena was also second in 70:56 behind Uganda’s Juliet Chekwel in 70:08.
In the full marathon, Portugal's Sara Catarina Ribeiro clocked 2:30:52 to finish third in a race won by Ethiopian Ayantu Abera in 2:29:30.
In Rome, Massimo Stano did more than just win the 10,000m race walk in 38:28.05 – his time was also a world lead and the second fastest time by an Italian race walker behind Ivano Brugnetti’s long-standing mark of 37:58.6.
World and European 20km race walk bronze medallist Antonella Palmisano also showed good form with the European Race Walking Cup in Alytus, Lithuania three weeks away, winning the women’s 10,000m race walk in 42:40.9.
Khapilina breaks 2:30-barrier for victory in Krakow
Also on the roads, Ukraine’s Viktoriya Khapilina was triumphant in the Krakow Marathon with the performance of her life as she won in 2:28:03 - winning by more than five minutes ahead of Kenya’s Gladys Kipsoi in 2:33:21.
There was also double reason for celebration at the Dusseldorf Marathon on Sunday as Germans Tom Groschel and Anja Scherl won the titles.
Both delivered fine performances, with Groschel running a personal best of 2:13:49 as he beat New Zealand’s Malcolm Hicks in 2:13:51 while late entrant Scherl won in 2:32:55 only three weeks winning the Hannover Marathon in 2:32:21.
And there was further good news for Germany in fourth place as Anna Hahner returned from injury to run 2:36:09.