This year's edition of the Brussels Airport Marathon & Half Marathon had more runners than the last one. Another proof that our participants don't fear the cold. From the first step they could warm themselves with the punchy track and the beautiful environment. The new finish at Park Cinquantenaire and the heartening welcome from the supporters formed the perfect conclusion of a nice race.
With 2,300 runners for the marathon, the previous participant record was smashed. Every year more and more people register for the Brussels Airport Marathon & Half Marathon. An overwhelming total of 14,000 participants headed to Brussels last Sunday, 1,000 runners more than last year. Moving the finish to Park Cinquantenaire and renewing the track was definitely a good move.
One of the many participants was a man with a very special story: Sebastien Bellin. The former basketball player and current manager of Spirou Charleroi was the victim of the terrorist attacks on Brussels Airport. His picture circulated all over the world. "I didn't know if I was ever going to run again", he said before the start. "The message is: how difficult the challenge may be, take it step by step. This has been a personal goal for me and it feels great that so many people see an example in me."
Bellin wasn't amongst the fastest runners, but Laban Cheruiyot was. The Kenyan finished the mythical distance in 2 hour, 24 minutes and 20 seconds. The second place was for his fellow countryman Patrick Korir (2:28:01). Pieter Gijsels (2:44:37) was the best Belgian runner and the third best overall. Kabiratou Nassam (2:57:59, Benin) was the fastest woman in the marathon competition, followed by Juliet Champion (2:59:35, UK) and Sarka Vystejnova (3:01:43, Czech Republic).
The half marathon was won by Belgian Maxime Delvoi (1:09:58), followed by Abdou Sihammane (1:11:14, Morocco) and Ashenafi Bulle (1:11:43, Ethiopia). Charlotte Monfils (1:23:58) was the fastest in the women's competition. She got company on the winners stage from Michela Ciprietti (1:25:23, Italy) and Heidi Van Maele (1:26:34, Belgium).
The temperature definitely played an important role during the race. "I have never run a marathon in such cold circumstances", said winner Cheruiyot. But he wasn't the only one. Many other participants were shaking from the cold and were happy when they crossed the finish line. But they weren't just glad that the race was over. They could also go to the Belgian Beer Café for a drink and a bite and of course for a Brussels waffle.