Deribe Robi ahead of the Vienna City Marathon (Victah Sailer / organisers) © Copyright
Preview Vienna, Austria

Genemo and Robi target course records in Vienna

With 10 runners in possession of sub-2:10 personal bests, organisers of the Vienna City Marathon have assembled what is possibly its best ever men’s field for the 34th edition of the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday (23).

Depending on the weather conditions, organisers hope for a winning time of 2:06 or may be a bit faster with the current course record standing at 2:05:41.

“If the weather is fine, I want to run 2:05 or 2:06 on Sunday,” said Deribe Robi at the pre-race press conference. With a personal best of 2:05:58, the Ethiopian is the second-fastest runner on the start list behind Kenya’s Eliud Kiptanui.

“I am looking forward to Vienna and hope for a fast race,” added Robi. “Of course much will depend on the weather.” While it should be mainly dry with temperatures just below 10C at the start, the wind could be a problem on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Ethiopian clocked his PB when taking second place in Eindhoven two years ago. “In that race I suffered from a back problem in the final section, so I think there is still room for improvement,” said Robi. “In the future I hope to achieve a time of 2:04.”

While Robi will be competing in Vienna for the first time, Suleiman Simotwo will be making his third consecutive appearance at the Vienna City Marathon. The Kenyan’s best result to date in the Austrian capital was his third-place finish last year in 2:10:15.

“Vienna is one of my favourite races,” said the former track specialist, who has a 1500m PB of 3:31.67. “On Sunday I hope for a good time.”

Kiptanui had to delay his flight to Vienna due to a visa issue. While he missed the press conference, he is expected to arrive in time for the race and is said to be in fine form.

Morocco’s Mustapha El Aziz could stop the Kenyan and Ethiopian dominance of the Vienna City Marathon. With a personal best of 2:07:55, the 32-year-old is the third fastest runner on the start list.

“It is my goal to break my personal best on Sunday,” said El Aziz, who last year set a half marathon PB of 59:29. He warmed up for Sunday’s race by finishing second at the Milan Half Marathon in 1:01:29.

Genemo aiming to retain her title

A year after battling high winds on her way to winning the Vienna City Marathon, Shuko Genemo is back in the Austrian capital to defend her title.

“I want to run faster than last year,” Genemo said at the pre-race press conference. Despite the severe conditions in 2016, the Ethiopian won the race with a personal best of 2:24:31. She now hopes for better conditions this weekend to further improve her personal best and maybe even challenge the course record of 2:23:47 set 17 years ago by Italy’s Maura Viceconte.

Genemo’s trip to Austria began with a huge surprise when she came off the plane. “It was the first time in my life that I had seen snow,” said the 21-year-old. Luckily the conditions did not last long and most of the snow that caught Vienna on Wednesday has already melted away. The forecast for Sunday suggests it will be sunny but it could be below 10C at the start. The wind could once again be a factor, although it shouldn’t be as strong as it was last year.

Genemo may be hoping for another win in Vienna, but she isn’t the fastest in the field. Fellow Ethipian Meseret Mengistu set her PB of 2:23:26 when winning the 2015 Paris Marathon. She also won the Xiamen Marathon earlier this year in 2:25:58, but she was somewhat reserved when asked about her goals for Sunday’s race.

“I had a foot problem during the build-up to Vienna,” said the 27-year-old. “I am fully recovered and ready to go, but I don’t want to make any predictions.”

There are three Kenyans in the race who could challenge Genemo and Mengistu on Sunday. While Nancy Kiprop and Rebecca Chesire both own sub-2:26 personal bests, Angela Tanui is a marathon debutante. Last year she set a half marathon PB of 1:07:16 and she came within 27 seconds of that mark earlier this year.

While Tanui hopes to run a good debut, Kiprop is targeting a personal best. “My aim is to improve by one to two minutes on Sunday,” said the 38-year-old Kenyan, who clocked her PB of 2:25:13 when taking second in Valencia in November last year. She combines training with a job as a teacher and hopes to open a school in the future.

Organisers for the IAAF

Elite field

Men
Eliud Kiptanui (KEN) 2:05:21
Deribe Robi (ETH) 2:05:58
Mustapha El Aziz (MAR) 2:07:55
Ishmael Bushendich (KEN) 2:08:20
Sergey Lebid (UKR) 2:08:32
Suleiman Simotwo (KEN) 2:08:49
Luke Kibet (KEN) 2:08:52
Silas Limo (KEN) 2:08:54
Ezekiel Omullo (KEN) 2:08:55
Alfonce Kigen (KEN) 2:09:47
Albert Korir (KEN) 2:10:08
Dereje Abera (ETH) 2:10:19
Paulo Paula (BRA) 2:10:23
Vincent Torotich (KEN) 2:10.32
Regasa Mindaye (ETH) 2:11:21
Geoffrey Kusuro (UGA) debut

Women
Meseret Mengistu (ETH) 2:23:26
Shuko Genemo (ETH) 2:24:31
Nancy Kiprop (KEN) 2:25:13
Rebecca Chesire (KEN) 2:25:22
Helalia Johannes (NAM) 2:26:09
Roza Dereje (ETH) 2:26:18
Tizita Terecha (ETH) 2:28:02
Emma Quaglia (ITA) 2:28:15
Irene Chepkirui (KEN) 2:31:55
Angela Tanui (KEN) debut