Eliud Kipchoge got back to business as usual at the NN Mission Marathon in Enschede, in The Netherlands, winning his last race before the planned defence of his Olympic title in Tokyo this summer in 2 hours 4min 30sec.
The 36-year-old Kenyan, world record holder and the first man to run the marathon in under two hours in special conditions, suffered a shock defeat at the London Marathon last October, finishing eighth in the rain and reporting a blockage of his right ear and problems with his hip.
But after what was only his second defeat in 11 marathons, and his first in seven years, Kipchoge returned to the top of the podium after breaking away from training partner Jonathan Korir with 10 kilometres of the 42.2km remaining, having clocked 1:01.43 at the halfway point, and finishing in the fastest time seen this year.
The race was originally planned to take place in Hamburg on April 11 before the local coronavirus situation obliged the organisers - Global Sports Communication - to seek an alternative date and venue.
"It is mission accomplished," said Kipchoge.
"The conditions were really good, a bit windy but I have no complaint, we were running as one.
"The race was really perfect.
"The NN Mission Marathon was a real test before Tokyo.
"It was so good a marathon happened a few months before the Olympics to test our fitness.
"I thank the great men and women who organised this race in less than 10 days.
"To organise this in the middle of a pandemic and show that people can still run and deliver their best race before the Olympics is very important."
Kenyan Korir was rewarded with a five-second personal best, recording 2:06:40 in second place and receiving a post-race hug from the winner.
Goitom Kifle of Eritrea trimmed two seconds from his lifetime best to take third place in 2:08:07.
More than 70 other athletes were using the race on a specially designed looped course at Twente Airport that was closed to the public to secure their Tokyo 2020 place or prepare for the Olympic event.
The race, billed as "the fastest way to Tokyo", lived up to expectations as 25 athletes - 15 men and 10 women - dipped under the Olympic automatic qualification standards.
In the women’s race, Germany’s Katharina Steinruck took almost a minute-and-a-half from her lifetime best to win in 2:25:59.
Sara Moreira of Portugal was rewarded for a patient display to take second place in 2:26:42 with the fast-finishing German Rabea Schöneborn reducing her personal best by more than a minute-and-a-half to take third place in 2:27:03.
Global Sports Communication director Jos Hermens said: "It is so special that we have been able to organise this race at such short notice.
"This is the competitive opportunity the athletes deserve, while chasing the dream of an Olympic ticket.
"These are challenging times and I’m so happy and proud we come together with our partners to make this possible."