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“Everything has changed a lot here. Where I now train in Sululta, in the Entoto mountains, it wasn’t paved before. Then you would see women with big bundles of sticks on their heads going up and down. Where now we are used to just being forest.”

“Where I walked today, a truck goes by every minute. Black smoke is coming out of every truck. I’ve never coughed so much during a long term. I don’t think I’ll be back here anytime soon.”

This is Abdi Nageeye. In Ethiopia they are preparing for the Rotterdam marathon, which is scheduled for next Sunday for the 42nd time. In the previous edition he was received as a hero at the finish line. He was the first Dutchman to win at Maasstad. His time of 2:04:56 also marked a solid Dutch record, which he already held.

Ever-growing list of honors

The Somali-born, now 34, is the best marathon runner in the Netherlands. Check out his ever-growing list of honors: stunning silver at the postponed Olympics in Tokyo in 2021, last year’s winner in Rotterdam, and in the fall a podium spot at the prestigious New York City Marathon, where he crossed the line. goal in third place.

Nageeye in Ethiopia on the way to Rotterdam: ‘You learn all the preparations’

Once again, a great performance is expected from Nageeye in Rotterdam. In the previous phase, he trained at high altitude (2,700 meters) in Ethiopia, together with his Belgian friend Bashir Abdi. On Sunday, just like last year, they are competitors against each other. In head-to-head duels, Nageeye leads 2-1. “I still have something to make up for,” the Belgian, also of Somali origin, looks ahead to the race.

They have been friends since 2008 and have been training together for quite some time. In early January 2021, Nageeye made the decision to say goodbye to Patrick Sang’s Kenyan training group, where she worked with world record holder and Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge.

Top world connection

Nageeye was ready for a new environment and teamed up with his friend Abdi, whose mentor is Gary Lough. The collaboration with the husband of former British marathon star Paula Radcliffe has now paid off.

Abdi has found the connection with the world top. “Since I trained with Bashir, I have become a much better athlete. I am very thankful for that.”

The truck brushes past Nageeye; Training in Ethiopia is not without its dangers

The father of four was out of luck during his stay in the highlands of Ethiopia. It rained an unprecedented amount during his internship (“It’s not the rainy season, so that’s a shame”) and the busy roads didn’t make it easy to prepare. “We are here about 30 kilometers from Addis Ababa. Sululta is just a city. The smog is real.” crazy. In two years we will have to move to another place.”

I was used to different. “In Sululta there was a large plain, where people from the city came to play soccer on weekends. It’s really not normal so many people.”

“But then people started building houses. People thought that houses were more important than health. The plain was good for social contacts, for movement. Nobody thought of that. It must be good for the economy.” he sighs.

Compass

Now he completes his training sessions with a heart rate monitor. “The last time I used it was in 2010, when I was still training with Johan Voogd in the Netherlands at my first club AV’34. Kenyans didn’t use it. So neither did I. Now that I’m a bit older, I think I also I can benefit. You can compare your training very well. It’s a kind of physical compass.”

Abdi Nageeye trains along the public road full of cars and trucks

Back to Rotterdam, where the national title is also on the line on Sunday. “The result is important. Every marathon is important. I want to continue for another two or three years. Rotterdam should be a good prelude to the World Championships in August in Budapest. I want a medal there. And then the focus will be on the Games in Paris “.

Mistakes at the Eugene World Cup

Last year, Nageeye did not participate in Eugene at the World Cup. He eventually he even got out. A disappointment, but his own fault, was his conclusion. He walked in newly developed shoes. “In these shoes you feel like you’re bouncing all the time.”

It had troubled him throughout the race and it got into his mind. When there were also shooting pains in his legs, his game was over.

Abdi Nageeye has come out during the marathon on the third day of the World Championships in Athletics

Now, for his eighteenth race of 42.195 kilometers, Nageeye knows better. “Every marathon I learn something new. I made mistakes in the last two weeks before the World Cup. You just have to stay healthy and train well.”

“My coach recently said: ‘You’re in a period where you feel very strong. So the danger is that you push too hard. So be careful.'” Before the World Cup in Eugene, I felt strong and kept training hard. I thought: I’ll move on. Using a heart rate monitor, I build much better.”

Be aware

The winner of Rotterdam 2021 will again look for victory on Sunday. “I have to hold my ground between 34 and 38 kilometres. Last time I wasn’t enough. I was lucky then that Abdi encouraged me and I closed the gap at the head of the field very quickly. I want to start a little faster.” he the floor in the first half in 62 minutes, so that he could achieve a good personal record later.