Volha Mazuronak takes European women’s title, while Belgium’s Koen Naert gets gold and championship record in men’s race
Surviving a heavy early nosebleed, pre-race favourite Volha Mazuronak won an exciting women’s marathon at the European Championships in Berlin, clocking a fast 2:26:22.
For most of the race the Belarusian, who had a 2:23:54 PB and was fifth in the 2016 Olympics, controlled the race, but despite constant surges she only got away in the final kilometre to win by eight seconds.
France’s Clemence Calvin, who had a great battle with Britain’s Jo Pavey in the 2014 European 10,000m, made a sensational debut to match her silver medal from Zurich four years ago with a time of 2:26:30.
Nordic skier Eva Vrabcova-Nyvltova, who was fifth in the 30km Winter Olympics event in 2014, also had a great breakthrough at her second sport with her 2:26:31 for bronze being a Czech record and three-minute PB.
With three in the top five, Belarus won the team event with ease. Maryna Damantsevich was fourth in a 2:27:44 PB and Nastassia Ivanova fifth in 2:27:49.
For much of the race the leaders operated at around 2:28 pace with Mazuronak ahead at 5km in 17:31, 10km in 35:12 (17:41), 15km in 52:26 (17:14) and 20km in 70:10 (17:44), before hitting half way in exactly 74 minutes.
The pace picked up slightly at 25km in 1:27:12 (17:02) and through 30km in 1:44:35 (17:21), the eventual medallists were taking shape.
Through 35km in 2:01:42 (17:07) the pace picked up but slowed through 40km (2:19:03) as the leaders gathered for the final drive which the winner covered in a fast 7:19.
Mazuronak, who ran the second half of the race in a swift 72:22, even survived a scare late in the race when she briefly went the wrong way when going toe to toe with Calvin.
Britain’s Tracy Barlow ran a steady race – she was 11th at half way in 75:34 and like most of the field slowed as the temperatures rose during the second half and finished 15th in 2:35:00.
GB team-mate Sonia Samuels was 17th at half way in 76:17 and finished 21st in 2:37:36, while Caryl Jones plugged away and was 30th in 2:40:41, having gone through half way in 78:18, to ensure Britain finished a team in the Cup competition.
Lily Partridge stayed with the lead pack initially (10km in 35:13) before dropping back but after running a steady pace through to halfway (74:51) she dropped out after 25km (90:06).
Charlotte Purdue ran well up to 10km (35:18) but dropped out shortly afterwards.
In the men’s race, Belgium’s Koen Naert pushed on over the final 10km and eventually claimed the title with a clear victory in 2:09:51, breaking the championship record.
Tadesse Abraham secured silver for Switzerland in 2:11:24, while Italy’s Yassine Rachik got the bronze in 2:12:09.
Naert had gone through 10km in 30:56, half way in 65:54 and 30km in 1:33:35. At 40km he had a lead of 1:18 over Abraham, which he increased to 1:33 at the finish.
Britain was not represented in this event and when announcing the GB team in April, the national governing body had said: “The British Athletics selection panel did offer three male athletes who had achieved the qualification standard the chance to compete in Berlin but these were declined.”
Ireland had two athletes in the top 20 as Kevin Seaward was 15th in 2:16:58 and Mick Clohisey 18th in 2:18:00.