Team Calipage - Craft has won the 2017 Adecco Brussels Ekiden 2017 with a new Belgian record. After a thrilling battle with Team Saucony, the team headed by Simon Debognies and Isaac Kimeli won in a time of 2:06:22. With over 1,400 teams and 8,000 runners the race reinforced its position as the world?s biggest marathon relay.

The beautiful autumn sunshine added to the atmosphere at the King Baudouin Stadium, which hosted the start and finish of the race. In the Chiquita Kids Run 172 children took part in their run in what was an impressive setting for the youngest participants. At 13:00 the start of the 14th edition of the Adecco Brussels Ekiden was held on the Marathonlaan. Some 1,400 teams brought 8,400 runners to the event. In every team six runners had to traverse the hilly Heysel plateau for a distance of 5, 10, 5, 10, 5 and finally 7.195 kilometres to complete a marathon.

BELGIAN RECORD FOR TEAM CALIPAGE-CRAFT

Team Calipage - Craft (Robin Hendrix, Simon Debognies, Stijn De Vulder, Isaac Kimeli, Riken Ost and Thomas De Bock) got off to a scorching start. Robin Hendrix and Simon Debognies immediately went below the split times of the 12-year-old Belgian record, ran by Stefan Van Den Broeck, Guy Fays, Frederic Collignon, Rik Ceulemans, Benjamin Barbier and Joeri Schoffelen.

In the second half of the race Isaac Kimeli's team lost some ground, but thanks to a strong finish by final runner Thomas De Bock, and the challenge from Team Saucony, Team Calipage - Craft finished in 2:06:22. They improved the Belgian record by a whopping 35 seconds at an average speed 20.034 km per hour.

Team Saucony finished only four seconds down, ensuring the fastest ever podium of the Adecco Brussels Ekiden. Running Team Tens@Fit Ranst was third in 2:08:56.

DE BOCK: 'WON THANKS TO LEAD BATTLE'

Thomas De Bock was elated after clinching the win for his team mates. "Wat a fantastic performance," De Bock said. "With a team of young talents we have set a brilliant time. Last year we were already close to the Belgian record and now we've got it. It's great to be a part of that." "The exciting battle with Team Saucony has pushed us to a higher level. Without that opposition I doubt we would have improved the Belgian record. Next year we'll try to set a new one. We're focusing on the European cross country championships, so there's still a margin to go faster. On a flat course we probably could have gone quicker, but the atmosphere at the Adecco Brussels Ekiden is just fantastic."

Team Saucony's Michaƫl Somers was quick to congratulate the winning formation but couldn't hide his disappointment. Despite also besting the old national record by over half a minute, that didn't prove to be enough to win on the day. "This is hard to take," Somers sighed. "Everyone of our team ran a great race, so it's a shame to lose it by a small margin."

Somers thinks De Bock made the difference at the end. "In the final stages we were always running together, but in the final descent he upped the pace," he added. "That's where we lost those four seconds. On the track I couldn't manage to close the at anymore."

INTERCLUB FOR KIM RUELL

In the interclub standings Kim Ruell's Royal Excelsior Sports Club (2:10:59) won the event ahead of CABW Men 1 (2:12:49) and Team Vandewattijne - ACG (2:21:55).

Yellow Armada (2:35:46) with Sofie Van Accom was the best women's team. DCLA (2:39:21) won the women's interclub event after a fierce battle with CABW Women 1 (2:41:46), with AVLO (2:45:37) joining them on the podium. Olympic Running Team Mixed (2:20:05) won the category for mixed teams.

1086 COMPANIES

The Adecco Brussels Ekiden underlines the fact that a running event is the perfect team building event for companies. A total of 1086 company teams signed up. Fortis BNP Paribas was the most represented company with 227 teams, collecting funds for three different charities.

"We came here with more than 1,300 colleagues," said Fortis BNP Paribas CEO Maxime Jadot. "I am very proud to have so many participants in this race. I have been training since August. If I see how many colleagues passed me during the run, I'm sure I wasn't the only one who prepared for this event."

Title partner Adecco had 50 teams at the start. "With our programme Energy@Adecco we try to motivatie our employees to take the time to practice sports," Nico Reeskens, CEO of The Adecco Group Belgium, explained. "The Adecco Brussels Ekiden is an excellent way to involve our interim workforce and our clients."

The company classification was won by the national team of Belgium's railway company NMBS-SNCB in a time of 2:31:40.

AFTERPARTY WITH LEVEL SIX

A great day of sports in and around the King Baudouin Stadium got a fitting end with a little party at the stadium gates. Party band Level Six provided the beats, while the participants enjoyed a well-deserved beer (or a spots drink) and relaxed their sore muscles.