Olympic silver medallist Abdi Nageeye won the 41st edition of NN Rotterdam Marathon in a Dutch record of 2:04:56 in front of his home fans beating Ethiopia’s Leul Gebrselassie, who clocked the same time in a very close sprint in the final straight. Nageeye has become the first-ever Dutch runner to win the Rotterdam Marathon.
Nageeye improved his previous national record of 2:06:17 set in 2019 when he finished fourth in Rotterdam. The Somali-born Dutch runner went on to win the Olympic silver medal in Sapporo last year in 2:09:56. Last November he finished fifth at the New York Marathon. Nageeye is coached by Patrick Sang, who also trains world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge.
Kenya’s Reuben Kipyego Kiprop, who entered the Rotterdam race with the second-fastest time of 2:03:55 set in Milan last year, led the race from the 30 km mark, but he had to settle with third place with 2:05:10.
Nageeye’s close friend Bashir Abdi from Belgium, who won last year’s edition of the Rotterdam Marathon in 2:03:36, finished fourth in 2:05:23.
Pacemakers set a 2:57 pace for each km in the first 15 km. Fourteen athletes went through 10 km in 29:29 and the halfway mark in 1:02:16. The leading group started to whittle down in the second half of the race. Just seven runners remained in the group at 30 km: Nageeye, Abdi, Gebrselassie, Dominic Kiptarus, Reuben Kiprop Kipyego, Kenneth Kipkemoi, and Philemon Kacheran. They went through at 30 km at 1:28:28.
Kipyego and Gebrseselassie pushed the pace in the final stages of the race.
Olympic medallists Nageeye and Abdi, Gebrselassie, Kipyego, and Kenneth Kipkemoi remained in the lead at 35 km. Kipkemoi was the first to lose ground at 37 km. Abdi started to drift back at 40 km, leaving Gebrselassie, Nageeye and Kipyego to battle it out for the final win.
Kipyego gave in at 41 km. Nageeye and Gebrselassie ran a thrilling neck-to-neck race in Coolsingel. Nageeye took the edge in a dramatic sprint to take the first win of his marathon career to the delight of his home fans.
Gebrselassie clocked the fifth sub-2:05 time of his career.
Before Abdi’s win last October, the Rotterdam marathon had always been won by a Kenyan or an Ethiopian runner in the previous 21 editions.
Ethiopia’s Haven Hailu won the women’s race in 2:22:01 beating local favorite Nienke Brinkmann, who smashed the Dutch record clocking 2:22:51 in the second marathon of her career. Lornah Kiplagat had held the previous national record with 2:23:43 since 2003.
Zhanna Mamazhanova from Khazakstan completed the podium at 2:26:54, improving the national record by more than one minute.
Hailu and Kenyan runners Daisy Cherotich and Stella Barsosio broke away in the early stages of the race, reaching the 10 km in 32:55, on pace to challenge the course record set by Tiki Gelana in 2012 with 2:18:58.
The leading pack reached the halfway mark at 1:09:56, just inside the 2:20 barrier.
Hailu pulled away from Cherotich and Barsosio a few km later. The Ethiopian runner reached 35 km at 1:57:34. Brinkman continued to close the gap on Cherotich and Barsosio and moved up into second place with seven km to go. Brinkman closed the gap on Hailu, who held on to cross the finish line in 2:22:01, setting the second-fastest time in her career. She had run her PB of 2:20:19 in Amsterdam last October. Hailu took the first marathon win of her career.