First lap. Photo: Bjorn Paree

In Budapest, I ran the fastest World Chmapionhsips and Olympic Game marathon of my life in difficult weather conditions, with a time of 2.15.42. This was accompanied by a 31st place in a competition of 85 men. Not bad! The goals were a little higher because I have run to the 26th position both at the WCH and OG. Each run is unique, so the result must be accepted with gratitude.

Even though there were 85 men on the course, I ran most of the distance alone. This is the pain and the magic of championship racing.

Photo: Bjorn Paree

The fun around the Budapest marathon was first class, worthy of the title race. There was a lot of audience by the course, including hundreds of Estonians with both flags and whistles. To the delight of the audience, the organizer had gathered music in a special part of the track and, in a rare way, even stage dancers. In the meantime, classical music was playing, as if the end was near.

Perfect performance! Hassan Chandi finished the race seventh. In half the country, the man’s position was 42.

Photo: Tairo Lutter

The competition took place on four ten-kilometer laps. The course was of medium difficulty. Even though the start and finish areas were long straights, crossing the bridge and the Buda Fortress tunnel were a challenge. While we crossed the Danube eight times, we went through the tunnel four times.

The only man who could not be caught from this group was Johannes from Germany, who finished in 26th place.

Photo: Bjorn Paree

We expected the climate to be a bit more favorable, so we didn’t pay too much attention to acclimatization. The competition protocol shows that the temperature was 23 degrees at the start and 28 degrees at the finish. Every half hour the air temperature was a degree higher. Later it turned out that it was the hottest day of the year in Budapest. The number of DNF, which was 24 runners, also speaks about the challenges of the climate.

Abdi Nageeye, one of the favorites of the race, was among those who DNF.

Photo: Bjorn Paree

Before the race, coach Mark and I agreed that we would keep the pace between 3.08 – 3.12. This meant a slower start than several others in the front group developed. So the race started in a similar tempo as many of my previous championships races. Half way I did not have an extra gear, which I expected to have. On the third lap, I stopped watching the split times and ran by the feeling. It was the right decision because the energy was saved until the end, unfortunately at the cost of a decrease in pace.

Place improvement:
5k 72nd place
10k 68th place
15k 65th place
20k 62nd  place
Halfway 61st place 1:06:55
25k 55th place
30k 48th place
35k 37th place
40k 34th place
Finish 31st place 2:15:42

Kristel, Maile, Marit where my team at the drinking stations. Mark was giving me the information at the different sections at the course.

Where to place this marathon in my championships racing career? Comparing the experiences of the seven championships races, I would place it in the fourth position after Tokyo, Munich, Berlin. A performance quite equivalent to Doha. London and Rio are firmly behind.

My championships placing statistics:
2016 Rio Olympics 63rd  / 155 starters
2017 London World Championships 40th / 101 starters
2018 Berlin European Championships 9th / 72 starters
2019 Doha World Championships 26th  / 73 starters
2021 Tokyo Olympics 26th / 106 starters
2022 Munich European Championships 11th / 79 starters
2023 Budapest World Championships 31st / 85 starters

An interview for Estonian national TV

Course map


I would like to mention by name my current teammates:

Trainer Mark Misch

Assistant coach and manager Harry Lemberg

Manager Charles Paanakker

Spiritual mentor Brad Bartz and Nick Schuetze

Masseur Peeter Nigol

Sports medicine doctors Agnes Mägi and Mihkel Mardna

Wife Maili together with our children