Ethiopia’s Shuko Genemo defied the difficult windy conditions on Sunday (10) at the 2016 Vienna City Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, to win in 2:24:31, the second-fastest time in the history of the event.
Debutante Ruti Aga, also from Ethiopia, was second in 2:25:27 while Kenya’s Doris Changeywo was a distant third in 2:31:50.
Genemo was always up with the leaders, passing 10km in 34:17. Fellow Ethiopians Aga, Guteni Shone and Meseret Kitata, as well as Changeywo, were also in the group.
Kitata fell behind before 15km then Shone was dropped just before half way, which was passed in 1:12:10.
Changeywo, who had arrived with a best of 2:44:26 from her debut race in Singapore last December, lost contact with the Ethiopian pair at the front after 25km before Genemo finally dropped her compatriot with about five kilometres to go.
If the wind had been a little kinder, it’s possible Genemo could have beaten the 16-year-old course record of 2:23:47.
“It was cold and windy, which made it difficult to run fast," said Genemo. "In perfect conditions, I could have run 2:22 today."
Chemosin leads Kenyan sweep
Kenya’s Robert Chemosin won the men's race in 2:09:48. After two Ethiopian victories in the past two years, the men’s race at this edition was dominated by Kenyans runners as four of his compatriots followed Chemosin home.
"It was difficult. There was a lot of wind," said Chemosin. "My goal was under 2:08 but I am happy with the win."
Charles Cheruiyot was second in 2:10:09 and 35-year-old Suleiman Simotwo, a former top-class 1500m runner, was third in 2:10:15. Silas Limo (2:10:16) and Raymond Choge (2:11:07) completed the top five.
Despite the wind blowing off banners on the course before the start of the race, the men’s leaders tried their best to stick to the planned pace.
In wind gusts of up to 45 kilometres per hour, a group of two pacemakers and seven contenders reached the half-way mark in 1:03:59, but hopes of a sub-2:08 finish were soon blown away.
A 30km split time of 1:31:35 indicated that the winning time would be closer to 2:09:00 and with the runners battling continuing winds, the pace dropped further.
Six runners were still in contention at 30km: Chemosin, Cheruiyot, Simotwo, Limo, Choge and Ethiopia’s Shengo Kebede.
Simotwo, a former 1500m runner with a best of 3:31.67, had already put in two or three surges and he started another just before 36km. It initially looked decisive as he was able to build a lead, but Chemosin and Cheruiyot caught him with about three kilometres to go.
“When we were reaching 39km, I knew I had to attack," said Chemosin, who has a marathon best of 2:08:05. "Simotwo tried to get away a couple of times, but I felt strong. I felt fine, but it was very hard to run against the wind."
Several highly regarded runners failed to make it to the line. Marathon debutant David Kogei of Kenya, who has a half marathon best of 59:46, was dropped from the leading group just before the 20km mark and later dropped out with back problems at 30km. The fastest runner in the field, Kenya’s Levy Matebo Omari who can boast of a best of 2:05:16, lost contact with the leaders just before the 30km mark and later dropped out as well.
Jorg Wenig (organisers) for the IAAF