Home > Runs & Races

Sondre Nordstad Moen becomes fastest non-African-born marathoner

The 26-year-old broke the European men's marathon record at the Fukuoka International Open Marathon Championship

Sondre Nordstad Moen

Norway’s Sondre Nordstad Moen improved the standard for men’s marathon running in Europe by lowering the continental record to 2:05:48.

The 26-year-old became the first European to break 2:06 in the marathon on Sunday at the Fukuoka International Open Marathon Championship. He negative split – running the second half of a race faster than the first – the marathon, covering the first 21.1K in 63:19 followed by 62:29 for the second half. Notably, his 5K splits between 30-35K and 35-40K were 14:37 and 14:38, respectively, or 2:03:21 pace.

“One of just a few days in one’s career where everything works perfect,” he wrote on Instagram.

Moen won the Japanese marathon over 2012 Olympic champion and 2013 world champion Stephen Kiprotich (2:07:10) and Suguru Osako (2:07:19), who trains with the Nike Oregon Project. Fukuoka was Osako’s second marathon after debutting in Boston in April.

The 2016 Olympian, who finished 19th in the marathon in Rio, competed at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in the summer and did not advance out of the 5,000m heats, racing in the same section as Canadian Mohammed Ahmed. After the August championships, Moen ripped a 59:48 half-marathon in Valencia, Spain in October.

“I was confident that I could run 2:07, and on a good day perhaps even 2:06, but I did not expect 2:05,” he told the IAAF. According to LetsRun.com, Moen’s time is the fastest-ever by a runner born outside of Africa on a record-eligible course. (Boston, where American Ryan Hall ran 2:04:58, is not record-eligible.)

The Association of Road Racing Statisticians lists Moen’s previous lifetime best as 2:10:07. Fukuoka, where Canadian Reid Coolsaet ran 2:10:55 in 2016, was Moen’s fourth-career marathon.

Turkey’s Kaan Kigen Ozbilen, according to the IAAF, previously held the European men’s marathon record of 2:06:10, set in 2016. Brazil’s Ronaldo da Costa held the fastest marathon time by a runner born outside of Africa until Moen’s performance at 2:06:05.

“I am not sure if people back in Norway realize how good a 2:05 marathon is,” Moen says.