Rotterdam Marathon History
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Thanks to a rich history, with no less than three world records, Rotterdam is renowned both nationally and internationally as a leading running event. A super fast course, excellent and innovative organisation, inspiring spectators and a unique atmosphere on the Coolsingel has meant that the ABN AMRO Marathon Rotterdam has grown into the biggest marathon and the biggest one-day sporting event of The Netherlands. A celebration for every runner.
On 23 May 1981 Rotterdam experienced the premier of its international marathon. Great sporting events don’t just happen to exist, they, like the marathon in Rotterdam, have a memorable history.
The idea of an international marathon in Rotterdam originated in 1980. On 17 May of that year the Rotterdam Athletic Union PAC organised the national 25-kilometre championship to commemorate its 85th anniversary. Cor Vriend, Barry Kneppers and Bram Wassenaar stood on the Coolsingel medal podium as numbers one, two and three respectively.
Carlos Lopes was the big star in Rotterdam on 20 April 1985. The Portuguese, a good friend of Jos Hermens, dropped out of the race in the previous year due to an injury. He took his revenge in 1985 in an unmistakable manner. He ran the world record in 2.07.12 and became the first human being to run the 42.195 kilometres within two hours and eight minutes. His lead on John Graham, who finished second in 2.09.58, amounted to nearly three minutes.
A year later Rotterdam made the acquaintance of the Ethiopian runners. On 19 April Abebe Mekonnen and Belayneh Densamo (photo) ran in a synchronised manner on the Rotterdam course. Mekonnen won with a lead of one second in 2.09.08. Desamo has however bound his name to Rotterdam forever. Firstly through the world record that he broke on 17 April 1988 (the first time that the race was held on Sunday) with 2.06.50 and secondly, because he appeared at the start in Rotterdam seven times and won four times (1987, 1988, 1989 en 1996).
Since 1999 all Rotterdam winners have been from Kenya. Among them was Josephat Kiprono, who with 2.06.50 equalled Densamo’s course record and ran 2001′s best time. On 04-04-04 it was the Kenyan Felix Limo’s turn to tie his name to the Fortis Marathon Rotterdam forever. With a course record and personal best of 2.06.14 the colourful Limo showed once again that Rotterdam has the fastest course in the world.
Read more interesting pieces of the Rotterdam Marathon here.