Poland’s Patrycja Bereznowska and Andrzej Radzikowski took the individual titles at the IAU 24 Hours European Championships in the Romanian city of Timisoara on Sunday (27).
Staged at ‘Ion Creanga’ children’s park, the race was held on a 1222.48-metre paved loop and got underway at 10am on Saturday morning (28) with 173 athletes from 30 European countries. After warm conditions at the start of the race, the runners welcomed the heavy rain that fell during the latter stages.
Not only was it one of the deepest fields ever for the championships, it also proved to be one of the most exciting as the medal places were only determined in the final 15 minutes of the race.
Croatia’s Antonija Orlic led for the first 14 hours of the women’s race and was the only woman in the field to cover 100 kilometres within the first nine hours (8:53). She was followed by Denmark’s Stine Rex, who took 9:04 to cover the first 100 kilometres.
After 160 kilometres, Bereznowska closed the gap and joined Orlic and Rex at the front. With 16 hours of running in her legs, Orlic was unable to maintain her pace and surrendered her lead to Rex with Bereznowska moving through into second place.
Two of Bereznowska’s compatriots – Monika Biegasiewicz and Małgorzata Pazda-Pozorska – were also in the top five at this point, putting Poland in pole position in the team standings.
Bereznowska moved into the lead with six hours left on the clock. Rex was just one lap behind, while Pazda-Pozorska overtook teammate Biegasiewicz to move into fourth place. Just one lap separated the four women for the final six hours of the race.
World champion Bereznowska, who holds the world best for the distance, held on to her lead to win with a distance of 243.35km. Rex, meanwhile, withstood the pressure from the Polish trio behind her and held on to second place with a PB of 241.92km. Pazda-Pozorska also set a PB, recording 240.69km to take the bronze medal.
Unsurprisingly, Poland easily won the team title with a combined distance of 720.45km. Germany took silver (656.24km) and Britain picked up bronze (645.06km).
As was the case at the 2016 edition of these championships, Lithuania’s Aleksandr Sorokin took an early lead with a fast pace from the outset. He covered the first 50 kilometres in 3:32, reached 80 kilometres in 5:56 and got to 100 kilometres with 7:28 on the clock. At that point, his nearest competitor was almost an hour behind.
After Sorokin reached 160 kilometres in 12:30, Spain’s Nicolás De las Heras Monforte started to gradually close the gap on the long-time leader. He held second place for several hours until France’s Stephane Ruel made a move into the runner-up spot after 21 hours.
Behind the lead trio, there were many other changes of positions in the top 10 between the likes of Poland’s Andrzej Radzikowski, Czech Republic’s Radek Brunner, Britain’s Dan Lawson, Germany’s Florian Reus, Hungary’s Norbert Mihalik and Italy’s Enrico Maggiola.
With two hours left, Sorokin’s 15-kilometre lead had almost disappeared as Ruel, Radzikowski and Monforte were close behind. Little more than an hour later, Ruel overtook Sorokin at the front and then Radzikowski’s closing pace carried him into the lead with about 50 minutes left.
With Ruel in second, Sorokin held on to third place. All three medallists were rewarded with personal bests as Radzikowski won with 265.41km from Ruel (263.54km) and Sorokin (260.99km).
The Czech Republic led the team standings during the early stages but eventually finished outside of the medals. France, who moved into the lead with just six hours remaining, took the team title with 754.62km from Britain (735.15km) and Germany (725.96km).
IAU for the IAAF
1 Andrzej Radzikowski (POL) 265.41km
2 Stephane Ruel (FRA) 263.54km
3 Aleksandr Sorokin (LTU) 260.99km
1 France 754.62km
2 Great Britain 735.15km
3 Germany 725.96km
1 Patrycja Bereznowska (POL) 243.35km
2 Stine Rex (DEN) 241.92km
3 Małgorzata Pazda-Pozorska (POL) 240.69km
1 Poland 720.45km
2 Germany 656.24km
3 Great Britain 645.06km