Poznań was the venue for the 2023 Polish Marathon Championships and lining up in a field of the nation’s finest was Bournemouth’s AC‘s very own Szymon Chojnacki. It was Szymon’s seventh marathon, having run the Łódź one three times, Warsaw once and Southampton and London in the UK.
He wasn’t really sure what sort of form he was in as he’d only been training for it for seven weeks but if anyone could pull together the required amount of strength and endurance in that sort of time period, it was Szymon.
In the week leading up to the race though, Szymon caught a severe infection with left him with further uncertainty on how he might be able to perform on the day. He made it onto the start line though and from there it was just a case of giving it his best shot and that was exactly what he intended to do.
With a field of 4,100 athletes competing, it was a big enough race to attract some of the top African athletes. They came over from Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea to battle it out for the top positions.
Regularly making trips back to his native country, Szymon had had some good running successes in Poland this year. At the end of August he competed in the Mistrzostwa Polish Masters 5000m, finishing 7th. He then went on to win the Pizza Run in the park just an hour and a half later with another strong 5k performance.
He then went on to run a 16:26 at the Piątka Praska which was a 5k race in Warsaw. He was also part of the A team for the Southern Road Relays in Aldershot, running a strong anchor leg to bring it home for the yellow and blues. He then went on to form part of a winning Bournemouth AC team in the Solent Half Marathon which was a Hampshire Road Race League fixture.
To begin with, Szymon was going at around 6:10 pace or slightly over. He went through the first 5k in 19:48 which put him in 75th place. Then he reached 10k in 39:07 which put him in 77th position. At 15k, he’d moved up to 68th, going through in 58:29.
Reaching the half marathon point in 1:21:45, he was in 72nd place at that stage. Just in that last mile he had started to slow down a bit though and was around 6:20 pace for his next couple of miles.
Making it to 25k in 1:37:53, he’d moved back up to 67th but his pace had dropped to around 6:25 to 6:30. Arriving at the 30k point in 1:57:59, he was managing to hold his pace well at around 6:30. At 35k, he was up to 64th place in 2:18:30 and by 40k he had gained four more places, arriving in 2:38:07.
With a downhill finish, Szymon cranked the pace up well in the final stages to go over the line in 2:46:47, taking 60th place. It was his second fastest ever marathon and that was a fantastic result for Szymon. His average pace was 6:20 and he’d done really well to remain strong throughout the race with no real hiccups.
He’d taken 10th place in the M40 category which was excellent considering it was the Polish national championships and the standard was so high.
It was an enthralling battle for first place between Petro Mamu Shaku of Eritrea and Tolla Mesfin Nigusu of Ethiopia which in the end came down to sprint finish. They were the first men ever to get in under 2 hours 10 minutes, with Shaku taking victory by just one second. His time was 2:09:57.
Nigusu was actually a second faster on chip time but of course, it was gun time that counted and Shaku was pronounced the winner.
The fight for the Polish national champion was also decided in the closing stages, with Adam Nowicki edging it over Mateusz Kaczor. Nowicki finished in 2:12:34 which put him in 5th place overall and Kaczor arrived 4 seconds later to take 6th and finish as runner up in the Polish Championships.
Ethiopian woman Tseginesh Mekonnin Legesse made a blistering start, leaving all her rivals for dust and she went on to take the first female spot in 2:27:28. That put her in 15th place overall. Her compatriot Birtukan Workineh Belay was the next woman over the line in a time of 2:30:34 which put her in 18th place overall.
Crossing the line in 2:31:15, Monika Jackiewicz was declared Polish national champion with her time putting her in 20th place overall.
Next up for Szymon, it was the Bieg Niepodległości (Independence Run) in Zgierz. He would compete there in a six mile race, looking to make a triumphant return to the place where he finished his studies and graduated back in 2008.