Austria's top distance runner, Günther Weidlinger, has decided to make his marathon debut on home soil, attempting the 42.195 km distance for the first time at the 26th Vienna City Marathon on Sunday, April 19, event organizers announced today.
The 30 year-old athlete, who famously tripped and hit the side of his face on a steeplechase barrier at the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Osaka (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rGHyYK9AM4), has consistently been Austria's top middle and long distance runner for the last ten years. He holds national records at 1500m (3:34.69), 3000m indoors (7:44.19), 5000m (13:13.44), 10,000m (27:36.46) and the 3000m steeplechase (8:10.83). Weidlinger is hoping to add the Austrian marathon record to his résumé in Vienna, the same venue where compatriot Gerhard Hartmann ran 2:12:22 in 1986.
"The conditions in Vienna are best for me and my debut race," said the bespectacled athlete through a news release. "Additionally the organizers of the Vienna City Marathon support me during my preparations for the race and of course it is very tempting to go for the national record in the race where it was once established."
The Viena City Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label event which recorded 6204 finishers last year, plus over 8000 more in an accompanying half-marathon. The course is relatively fast; Kenyan Abel Kirui became the first man to break 2:08 at the race last year, setting a course record of 2:07:38.
Race director Wolfgang Konrad also announced that Austria's top female steeplechaser and mountain runner, Andrea Mayr, will make her debut at Vienna, too. The 29 year-old athlete holds the Austrian record for the steeplechase (9:47.61) and has a half-marathon best of 72:47. Also an accomplished mountain runner (she won the Obudu Ranch Mountain Race in Nigeria last November), Mayr holds the event record for the famous Empire State Building Run-Up in New York City.
Registration for the Vienna City Marathon remains open at www.vienna-marathon.com.
PHOTO: Günther Weidlinger setting the Austrian 10,000m record at the 2008 Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford University in 2008 (photo courtesy of PhotoRun.net, used with permission)