By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
MÜNICH (15-Aug) — Poland’s Aleksandra Lisowska and Germany’s Richard Ringer won historic gold medals today in the marathon on the opening day of the 2022 European Athletics Championships here. Lisowska, 31, won the first-ever European marathon title for Poland in a nail-biting race where four women were still in contention for the medals in the final 50 meters.
Ringer, 33, became the first German man to take the European marathon crown, sprinting past the tiring Maru Teferi of Israel in only the final 20 meters. In hot and sunny conditions, they were timed in 2:28:36 and 2:10:21, respectively, and both drew loud cheers from the thousands of spectators who lined the finish.
Lisowska, who co-holds the Polish marathon record of 2:26:08, was not a favorite to win a medal here today. Before today she had only broken 2:30 for the marathon once, and at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics she only finished 35th in 2:35:33. She was so below the radar that her official athlete profile on the European Athletics website didn’t even have a photo.
But today she ran a patient race, allowing others to do the leading until the time was right for her final move. She took advantage of the reasonable first-half pace of 1:14:33 to tuck in the pack and assess her better-known rivals like Portugal’s Sara Moreira, Germany’s Miriam Dattke, Netherlands’ Nienke Brinkman, Switzerland’s Fabienne Schlumpf, Italy’s Giovanna Epis, and Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack. Indeed, it was not until the 30-K point, when the lead pack was down to 10, that Lisowska thought about asserting herself.
“From the start, I felt I was in total control of the race,” she said. “In fact, the first 30 kilometers were too slow for me so I tried to attack the pace a bit so I could go ahead. After the 30th kilometer, I was able to run the pace I wanted and still kept the energy to attack if needed.”
All the significant action took place after the 35-K mark. Brinkman, Dattke, Lisowska, Croatia’s Matea Parlov Kostro (another surprising athlete today), and Epis were the only athletes who remained in contention. Read more: Day 1 – 2022 European Athletics Championships women’s marathon results; Aleksandra Lisowska takes gold
With the clock showing 2:20:50, Epis had fallen back (she would finish fifth) and Lisowska and Dattke had pulled ahead of Brinkman and Parlov Kostro.
Moments later, Lisowska put in her one big move hitting 40-K in 2:21:18 and dropping Dattke. She quickly built up a seven-second lead, a cushion which would prove to be enough to get her over the finish line first.
“I had it under control,” Lisowska said confidently.
Behind her, Dattke, Parlov Kostro and Brinkman were battling for the two remaining medals. It seemed that Dattke had enough of a lead on her two rivals to at least get bronze, but both Parlov Kostro and Brinkman were not giving up.
“I was struggling in my head,” Parlov Kostro told Race Results Weekly. “In the last 500 meters I decided to go in the front and do my best and see what’s going to happen and it was amazing.”
Indeed it was. Brinkman tried to catch Lisowska, but Parlov Kostro passed Brinkman and finished a clear second in 2:28:42. Dattke rallied and drew even with Brinkman and nearly passed her right before the line. Although both women were timed in 2:28:52, Brinkman was given the bronze over Dattke.
“It is almost a fairy-tale, a race like this; my career is just starting,” Brinkman said in amazement.
Dattke was gracious in defeat.
“Crossing the finish line, I felt super happy despite the fact that I missed the podium,” she said. “I want to say thank you to our home fans for the huge support. It was special.”
For the Polish team, starting off with a gold medal at these championships was a huge boost. Lisowska was riding high.
“Wow. This is an incredible result,” Lisowska said. “Before the race, I did not believe this could happen and still cannot believe it right now that I am the European champion.”
In winning the men’s race today, Ringer ran surprisingly level splits, 1:05:18 for the first half and 1:05:03 for the second. Like Lisowska, he kept his powder dry waiting for the final stages of the race to show his cards.
Just before the 40-K mark Ringer was behind the leaders Gashau Ayale, Teferi Maru and Girmaw Amare of Israel; Amanal Petros of Germany; Nicolas Navarro of France; Ayad Lamdassem of Spain; and Koen Naert of Belgium, the defending champion. The official splits only had Ringer in ninth place.
But Ringer had a secret weapon: his track speed. An accomplished track athlete with a 3000m personal best of 7:46.18 and a 5000m best of 13:10.94, he knew if he could stay close to the leaders he had a chance in the final meters.
“I started as a 5-K runner; this is why I finished strong,” Ringer explained.
At 40-K (2:03:48) Ringer, Lamdassem, Teferi, Ayale, and Petros were all still together. Lamdassem was the first to fall back (he would finish sixth), and at 41-K Petros and Teferi began to pull away. Ringer found himself alone in third place. He said he found special motivation in the team aspect of today’s race and really dug deep.
“Although this is an individual event, the great motivation was the team because we were going for a team medal and the chances were good to get one,” he said. “I would have never thought that this team spirit could be so strong and help so much.”
Teferi left Petros who was clearly struggling. In the final 800 meters it looked like the Israeli would get the win, but Ringer wasn’t done digging. He passed his teammate Petros then put in a final burst in the last 25 meters to slingshot past Teferi just before the line. The title was his.
“Every marathon is a surprise,” he said. “Now I am the champion of Europe.”
Teferi got second in 2:10:21 and wasn’t disappointed, especially since Israel won the men’s team title (Germany won on the women’s side).
“I am not disappointing,” he told Race Results Weekly in English. “I’m very happy for me and Germany guy (Ringer), so I am very happy to take second.”
Third place went to Teferi’s teammate, Gashau Ayale, in 2:10:29 who also passed Petros who finished fourth. Defending champion Naert came home eighth in 2:11:28.
2022 European Athletics Championships marathon Teams Scores
[Championships record 2:25:14, Christelle DAUNAY (FRA), Zürich, 16-Aug-2014]
Teams (European Cup/score three athletes on total time):
1. Germany, 7:28:48
2. Spain, 7:39:25
3. Poland, 7:40:54
4. Belgium, 7:41:35
5. Ireland, 7:48:28
6. Great Britain & Northern Ireland, 7:51:19
7. Czech Republic, 7:55:29
8. Netherlands, 8:05:13
9. Sweden, 8:07:41
10. Finaland, 8:18:45