Paul Kirui of Kenya (PhotoRun.net) © Copyright
Kirui, the 2004 World Half Marathon champion, will be targeting the 2:07:38 course record but will also be chased by the event's World record holder, Haile Gebrselassie, through the streets of the Austrian capital. Gebrselassie will be contesting the Half Marathon which will be staged as a unique chase race in which he'll set out to catch the elite field before finishing his run. The marathoners' head start has yet to be determined.
With a personal best of 2:06:44 Kirui is one of the fastest runners to ever run in Vienna. The 31-year-old clocked his career best time back in 2006, when he was second at the Rotterdam Marathon. But since then Kirui’s fastest marathon each year has not been solver than 2:08:23. Additionally the average time of his 10 fastest marathons, 2:08:53.3, shows how consistent the Kenyan has been. His biggest marathon win was in Amsterdam, where he clocked 2:07:52 in 2008. With a 2:07:35 third place finish in Seoul last year, he illustrated that he is still very fast over the distance.
One of his strongest opponents will be Patrick Ivuti. The two-time World Cross Country (1999 and 2003) silver medallist ran a very good marathon debut in Chicago in 2005, where he was second in 2:07:46, still the career best for the 32-year-old. But after a setback due to malaria in the winter of 2008 he came very close to this time, when he took the Prague Marathon in 2:07:48 in 2009. An excellent Half Marathon runner with four results inside one hour and a personal best of 59:27, Ivuti will be eager to finally further improve in the Marathon. Last year a series of injuries prevented him from competing.
Isaac Macharia is another experienced marathon runner who'll be on the start line. Actually his best result so far came in a race with Gebrselassie. When the Ethiopian took the Dubai Marathon in 2008 with 2:04:53 the Macharia was second in 2:07:16. The two time Nagano Marathon champion (2005 and 2009) also has a fine half marathon best of 1:00:48.
Joseph Ngeny and Wilson Kigen could also play a part when it comes to determining the Vienna champion. Ngeny features a personal best of 2:08:10, which he ran when he finished third in Eindhoven in 2009, while Kigen’s PB stands at 2:08:16 from a runner-up finish in Frankfurt in 2008.
If Nicholas Chelimo should be able to improve his personal best of 2:07:38, Vienna will definitely see a course record. By coincidence his PB matches exactly the course record of Kenya’s reigning World Champion Abel Kirui, who had won the race in 2008 and then took World gold a year later in Berlin. In the past four years 28-year-old Chelimo has clocked sub-2:10 times consistently. 2010 was his best year so far as a marathon runner. First the Kenyan took the Nagano Marathon in 2:10:24, and then improved his personal best by eight seconds to 2:07:38 with a second place in Eindhoven and finally he won the Honolulu Marathon in December (2:15:18).
Jorg Wenig (organisers) for the IAAF