Naert (BEL) solves the marathon puzzle as Mazuronak (BLR) wins by a nose
Koen Naert won European men's marathon gold in a Championship record of 2 hours 9 minutes 51 seconds at the European Mile arena in Breitscheidplatz, Berlin, on Sunday morning, with favourite Volha Mazuronak of Belarus overcoming a nosebleed early in the race to take the women's in 2:26.22
Naert made a decisive break around the 33km mark to move clear of Switzerland’s 2016 European half marathon champion Tadesse Abraham , whose surge after 30km had detached the trio from the main group, and Italy's Yassine Rachik.
Abraham claimed silver in 2:11.24, with an exhausted Rachik crossing for bronze in a personal best of 2:12.09.
"This is incredible," Naert said. "Coming out here and doing this time, it hasn't really sunk in. I waited until the right moment to move away from the group, and get the lead position.
"I was feeling particularly strong today, but equally apprehensive. This puzzle in my life is finally complete."
While Naert was a lone leader around the final lap of the 10km city centre loop, Mazuronak needed a sprint to the line to shake off the dogged challenge of French marathon debutante Clemence Calvin, who took silver in 2:26:28, ahead of the Czech Republic’s Eva Vrabcova-Nyvltova.
Those three had broken clear of the rest after 25 kilometres. From then on, Mazuronak looked in complete control, bar a small mistake at the final turn where she almost went the wrong way.