Ozbilen closes in on Farah’s European marathon record with 2:05:27 in Rotterdam

Kaan Kigen Ozbilen wins the 2017 SPAR European Cross Country Championships senior men's title
European Athletics

Kaan Kigen Ozbilen moved to second on the European all-time marathon list with a 2:05:27 clocking in the NN Rotterdam Marathon

Turkey’s Kaan Kigen Ozbilen once more demonstrated his endurance to become the second fastest European marathon-runner of all-time with a sensational second-place finish in the NN Rotterdam Marathon on Sunday on an historic day for European distance running.

The 2017 SPAR European cross country champion is a man for all seasons and all conditions as he broke his own Turkish record by crossing the line in 2:05:27 as Kenya’s Marius Kipserem won in a course record of 2:04:11. His compatriot Emmanuel Saina was in third in 2:05:42.

Five months out from the IAAF World Championships in Doha and with the Olympic Games in Tokyo on the horizon in 2020, Ozbilen has now made himself a major contender as he sits just 16 seconds behind Great Britain’s Mo Farah on the European all-time list.

Farah will be looking to break his own mark of 2:05:11 in the London Marathon at the end of the month but Ozbilen’s run moved him up from his previous position of third and ahead of Norway’s Sondre Nordstad Moen who ran 2:05:48 in December 2017.

For Ozbilen, 33, it was another landmark performance in a career in which he holds national records at 10km (28:09), 15km (42:16), 20km (56:42), half marathon (59:48) and now this marathon time, surpassing his previous mark of 2:06:10.

While Kipserem had too much for Ozbilen in the closing stages, there were some equally standout performances behind him which also had some bearing on the history books.

Beginning the day at just outside the top-30 on the European all-time list with the national record of 2:08:16 from the Amsterdam Marathon in 2017, Abdi Nageeye, 30, is now fourth on the European list.

Nageeye, who dropped out of the marathon at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships in the late stages when he was in medal contention, ran almost two minutes faster than ever before with 2:06:18. He hinted that he could have run faster if his last 10 kilometres wasn't scuppered by a physical problem.

"This is unbelievable,” Nageeye told NOS after the race. “I trained very hard for this. After 32, 33 kilometres I felt my hamstring and I had to take it easy.”

And Koen Naert, who won gold in the German capital last year, was not far off from breaking the Belgian record which has stood since 1995. With a negative split of 64:03/63:36, he finished seventh in 2:07:39, edging closer to Vincent Rousseau’s national mark of 2:07:20.

"It was an exceptional day. It had everything: the weather was fine and the conditions allowed us to run fast. I clocked 2:07:39, only 19 seconds outside the Belgian record. Therefore I am very happy," he told sport.be.

Abraham makes the podium in the Vienna Marathon

Switzerland’s Tadesse Abraham remains an impressive force at the distance as he showed on Sunday in Vienna when he finished second in 2:07:24 as Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba won in a lifetime best of 2:06:56.

Abraham had aspirations of targeting Farah’s record of 2:05:11 but the European marathon silver medallist was some way behind schedule through halfway with the leading group in 63:22. Even so, Abraham’s time was the second fastest of his career and his performance marked his first podium finish in a big city marathon since winning the Zurich Marathon in 2014.   

“I was disappointed not to have got close to the record but could still feel Dubai in my legs [2:09:50 in January]. I’ll probably run the World Championships in Doha but shall discuss with my coach first,” he said.

But it was a historic day for the host nation as Lemawork Ketema was eleventh in a national record of 2:10:44, breaking Gunther Weidlinger’s 2009 mark by three seconds.

In Debno on Sunday, it was a memorable day for Poland’s Aleksandra Brzezinska as she triumphed on her debut in 2:34:51 and was also crowned the national champion.

In the Lodz Marathon, Poland’s Dominika Stelmach also won the women’s race in 2:39:11 as Andrzej Rogiewicz finished second in the men’s race in 2:18:30 behind Ethiopian Getaye Fisseha Gelaw in 2:14:39.

At the Kyiv Half Marathon, there was home success in the Balkan Championships as Roman Romanenko finished fifth in 64:36 and Darya Mykhaylova as 4th in 71:50 as the races were won by Kenyans Bernard Cheruiyot in 63:42 and Daisy Jeptoo in 70:52.

In Freiburg, both Moritz Beinlich (64:24) and European U20 5000m champion Miriam Dattke (71:55) ran personal bests to lift the German half marathon titles.