John Kiprotich is targeting the first sub 2:07 time on Austrian soil in Sunday’s Vienna City Marathon (15) intent on improving his personal best of 2:07:08. He will be one of five Kenyans in the race, who have run the distance faster than 2:08.
A personal record will be the goal for the defending women’s champion as well. Fate Tola (Ethiopia) took the Vienna City Marathon with 2:26:21 in 2011 and is now eager to improve this time.
Organisers of Austria’s biggest sporting event have registered a record number of 36,000 entries. This includes other running events staged parallel to the marathon on Sunday.
The 29th Vienna City Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
“In 2011 I did not expect to win the race. This success was a big motivation for me to train hard to further improve. It is my goal to come closer to the best runners of the world,” said Kiprotich, who won last year’s race with 2:08:29.
The 23-year-old, who improved his PB by more than seven minutes in Vienna last year, ran a good half marathon in the build-up to Vienna. In February he clocked 60:02 in the Rome-Ostia race. “This was a good sign for Vienna, where we will have a race of champions on Sunday. I am happy to be back and I expect a fast race,” said Kiprotich, who is one of four former Kenyan winners coming back to Austria. Henry Sugut took the Vienna City Marathon in 2010 with 2:08:40, Gilbert Kirwa was number one in 2009 with 2:08:21 and Luke Kibet won in 2007 (2:10:07). Kibet then went on to win the World Championships’ marathon in the same year.
The runner with the fastest time in the field is Gilbert Kirwa. But the 26-year-old, who improved to 2:06:14 in Frankfurt in 2009, does not see himself as the favourite. “There are very strong runners in the field on Sunday,” Gilbert Kirwa said. The Kenyan has not raced since April 2011, when he ran the Rotterdam Marathon and finished eleventh with 2:14:29. “Originally I wanted to run the Frankfurt Marathon in October, but then I got injured. I then hoped to compete in Tokyo in February, but I was not ready for it in time. So instead I opted for Vienna, where I have very good memories. When I won the 2009 race this was a great motivation for me,” said Kirwa.
Another former Vienna winner who attended today’s press conference was Henry Sugut. “I expect a very competitive race and look forward to Sunday. All of us want to win,” said the Kenyan, who hopes to improve his personal best of 2:08:21 which he ran in Paris in spring 2011. He then acted as a pacemaker in Berlin, where Patrick Makau (Kenya) broke the world marathon record (2:03:38). “When I paced for Patrick Makau I saw how hard it is to run such a pace and how hard you will have to train for it. I paced him for 25 k,” said Sugut. He then ran a full marathon in Frankfurt (2:08:56) and after a break started preparing for Vienna. “I want to run sub 2:08 on Sunday. May be I can achieve a result around 2:07:00.”
While Sugut has run with Makau in Berlin, Fate Tola also has experience in running with one of the best – but on a more regular basis. She is the training partner of the German record holder Irina Mikitenko (2:19:19). Coached by Irina’s husband Alexander they all were together in Albuquerque (USA) for high altitude training recently. “I have trained well with Irina,” said Fate Tola, who is married in Germany and speaks some German. The 24 year-old has two goals on Sunday: “I want to defend my title and achieve a personal best.”
One of her rivals will be a two-time Vienna winner: Luminta Talpos (Romania) took the race in 2007 and 2008. Four years ago she qualified for the Olympic Games in Vienna. “This is the goal again. I hope to qualify for London on Sunday,” said the 39 year-old, who clocked her personal best of 2:26:43 in Vienna in 2008.
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF
Selected elite runners of the Vienna City Marathon:
Gilbert Kirwa KEN 2:06:14
Gilbert Yegon KEN 2:08:18
John Kiprotich KEN 2:07:08
John Komen KEN 2:07:13
Patrick Ivuti KEN 2:07:46
Wilson Kigen KEN 2:08:16
Henry Sugut KEN 2:08:21
Iaroslav Musinschi MDA 2:08:32
Geoffrey Ndungu KEN 2:08:33
Luke Kibet KEN 2:08:52
Shume Gerbaba ETH 2:09:03
Mariko Kipchumba KEN 2:09:04
Lusapho April KEN 2:09:25
Dmitriy Safronov RUS 2:09:35
Willy Kibor KEN 2:10:21
Emmanuel Samal KEN 2:10:27
Fate Tola ETH 2:26:21
Luminita Talpos ROM 2:26:43
Olga Glok RUS 2:28:27
Aberash Nesga ETH 2:29:47
Helalia Johannes NAM 2:30:35
Pauline Kahenya Njeri KEN Debut