It was a beautiful comeback for World Marathon Record holder Eliud Kipchoge who crusied to victory in the NN Mission Marathon in a special course at Enschede City's Twente, Airport in the Netherlands Sunday.
Kipchoge crossed the finishing line in 2 hours 04 minutes and 30 seconds proving that he is still the man to beat ahead of his compatriot Jonathan Korir. He was met at the finishing line by his coach Patrick Sang who handed him the Kenyan flag.
It was the Kenyan's first race of the year since last October's London Marathon where he finished eighth.
Philemon Kacheran and Noah Kipkemboi were the lead pacemakers who later dropped after they were done with the 25km mark assigned to them.
It was a tactical race with Kipchoge leading the group from the start hanging on with pacemakers and after 33km mark, he surged forward dropping his training mate Jonathan Korir.
Kipchoge maintained the pace crossing the 40km mark with a time of 1:57:58 before heading to the finish line with a smile on his face showing that he was satisfied with what he had done.
"This was a real test and I'm happy I have managed to finish well. The organisers did a great job and it's time to get back to Kenya and prepare for the Olympic games and we shall be having more consultations with my team," said Kipchoge after the race.
He revealed that the weather conditions were good despite the wind which slowed the pace.
"Conditions were good though it was a bit windy but I don't want to complain because we were all in one course and I have finished the race," added Kipchoge.
The race brought together about 50 athletes who are seeking Olympics qualification times ahead of the games in July and August in Tokyo, Japan.
A special eight-lap course had been designed at Twente Airport where the public was not allowed due the Covid-19 pandemic.
The race was initially set to take place on April 11 in Hamburg, Germany before it was postponed by a week due to the surge of the coronavirus.
Kipchoge will be seeking to be the third man to defend his Olympic marathon gold in August.
Ethiopia's Abebe Bikila (1960 Rome, 1964 Tokyo) and Germany's Waldemar Cierpinski (1976 Montreal, 1980 Moscow) are the other athletes who have defended the Olympics marathon crown.
Gladys Chesir, who was the only Kenyan in the women's race, finished eighth in a time of 2:29:16.