In an unprecedented move in the history of major international city marathons the organisers of the Vienna City Marathon have decided to invite debut runners only to their event. This applies to the men's and women's elite fields. The Vienna City Marathon will take place on 19th April. Austria's biggest and most prestigious road race is expected to attract well over 26,000 runners. Around 7,000 of them will compete in the marathon. It is still possible to register online for all events at www.vienna-marathon.com. The Vienna City Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.
"We already had the idea of staging a race with debutants only a year ago. But then we saved it for this year, because the race on 19th April is much more suitable. This is because Günther Weidlinger and Andrea Mayr decided to compete here and run their first marathon, which causes a lot of media interest in Austria," says Race Director Wolfgang Konrad. The former world-class steeple chaser further explains: “We wanted the race to be a different story this time. All the elite runners will start the race with the same or very similar feelings, with quite some uncertainty -- probably they will have very much the same feelings as thousands of fun runners, who will run their first marathon on that day as well. I believe that it will also be very interesting for the spectators to watch such a competition." But Wolfgang Konrad also stressed that this is a one-time experiment. Next year the Vienna City Marathon will return to normal procedures. And Günther Weidlinger has already been signed for 2010 as well.
Austria's steeplechase record holder Günther Weidlinger will meet another former steeple chaser in Vienna on 19th April: Reuben Kosgei (Kenya), the Olympic Champion from Sydney 2000. Weidlinger had been running in that Olympic final as well and with an eighth place achieved his best ever result at a major global championship then. "It is great to run in a race with Reuben Kosgei again nine years after Sydney. However the Austrian record of 2:12:22, which I want to go for, will hardly be a target for him. But who knows: If he does not get his best day and I feel great I might be able to challenge him. It is great to be up against an Olympic Champion," says Günther Weidlinger.
While Günther Weidlinger will face more tough opposition from Kenya Andrea Mayr will perhaps have a better chance to reach a podium finish in front of a home crowd. The 29 year-old has a successful mountain running background. In 2006 and 2008 she won the World Mountain Running Trophy. One of her strongest opponents will be Kenya's Esther Muthuku, who has a half marathon best of 1:12:28.
More information and online entry for the Vienna City Marathon is available at: www.vienna-marathon.com
The start of the Vienna City Marathon. Photo credit: www.photorun.net