Moroccan runners Youssef Sbaai and Redouane Nouini have broken the course record of the International Sofia Marathon.
Both athletes finished the race in 2:13:03, in the closest finish in the event’s history.
The gold medal, however, went to Sbaai after photo finish technology showed he completed the race a few milliseconds before his compatriot.
The 37th International Sofia Marathon took place on Sunday, October 11, in the Bulgarian capital.
Sbaai and Nouini competed with more than 2,700 other runners in a race that goes through the city’s historic center.
The Moroccans’ finish time earned the Sofia Marathon the Worlds Athletics Bronze Label. The label testifies to the competitiveness of races across the world.
Sunday’s race was very close throughout most of the 42.195-kilometer distance. At the half-way point, the race’s leading group included Sbaai and Nouini, as well as three runners from Kenya and one Dutch athlete.
Just before the 30-kilometer checkpoint, the Moroccan duo increased their pace, leaving their closest competitors behind.
The Moroccan duel for the lead continued over the final 10 kilometers, with both Sbaai and Nouini refusing to give up the first position. The fierce head-to-head competition led the Moroccan runners to further extend their lead over other opponents.
In the final sprint, the two Moroccans gave their all and finished only a few milliseconds apart.
Sbaai and Nouini completed the race more than three minutes before their closest opponents.
The International Sofia Marathon was Sbaai’s third marathon in 2020. In January, he finished 29th in the International Marrakech Marathon.
In February, the 40-year-old runner finished 18th in the Sevilla Marathon, but broke his personal record, finishing the race in 2:09:53.
Meanwhile, Nouini only participated in the International Marrakech Marathon this year prior to his race in Sofia. In Marrakech, the 32-year-old athlete finished 16th.