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Posted: April 16, 2009  : Add to Mixx!

Athletics: Günther Weidlinger ready for his marathon debut in Vienna

Günther Weidlinger is ready for the final challenge of his career: the marathon. The 31 year-old Austrian will run his debut at the classic distance this Sunday at the Vienna City Marathon. While the former world-class steeplechaser will opt for a careful and controlled approach he none the less targets a record. The national marathon best stands at 2:12:22. This mark was set in Vienna by Gerhard Hartmann back in 1986. If Günther Weidlinger should succeed he will become the first runner in Austrian athletics history to hold all the major national long distance records from the steeple upwards to the 42.195 k.

"Of course there is quite some pressure because of this record. The expectations in Austria are really high regarding this," explains Günther Weidlinger. "But there was no way that I could have avoided it. No one would have believed me if I had said I just wanted to run 2:15. Even now journalists ask again and again if I am not trageting a time of around 2:10." But for Sunday this faster time will not be on schedule for Günther Weidlinger. “If I could break the Austrian record at my debut that would be perfect. Regarding my future marathon career I certainly hope that one day my name will appear in the top lists with a time of below 2:10."

"I have trained really well and actually I liked the training despite the high milage," says Günther Weidlinger. "May be I should have turned to the marathon two years earlier and then should have run in the event in the Olympics in Beijing. But on the other hand I achieved an Austrian record in the 10,000 metres last year." Günther Weidlinger, who is coached by his father Heinrich, covered about 4,400 kilometres of training in his six and a half months built-up for the Vienna City Marathon. His maximum milage per week was 225 k and his longest run was 37 k. These are pretty good marks for a debutant. At the Prague Half Marathon in March Günther Weidlinger had a good test race which he finished in 63:26 minutes without maximum effort.

"I am not afraid of the marathon, but I have respect. If I would be afraid then I would not run well," said Günther Weidlinger, who believes that in theory he could still run very well in the steeple as well. "I think a sub 8:15 would be possible. But this chapter was finished after running in the World Athletics Final in 2007," said the Austrian record holder (8:10.83), who had placed eighth in the Olympic final in 2000 and then horribly thrashed his face at a barrier in the Osaka World Championships in 2007.

No matter what his result will be on Sunday Günther Weidlinger does not plan to run the marathon at the World Championships in Berlin in August. "Starting this marathon in the summer at 11 am is crazy. They could well end-up with a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius at the start and 35 when they finish." Should he decide to run the 10,000 m at the World Championships the Frankfurt Marathon in late October might be his option in autumn. Günther Weidlinger is already signed for the Vienna City Marathon 2010.

One of the two Kenyan pacemakers on Sunday, who are supposed to guide the Austrian crowd favourite through the half marathon mark in 66 minutes, has got a prominent family name regarding the steeplechase: Maswai Kiptanui. But there are no connections to the former world record holder Moses Kiptanui. "If Günther has a Kiptanui as a pacemaker what can go wrong on Sunday," asks Race Director Wolfgang Konrad, who had been the Austrian record holder in the steeple as well.

More information and online entry for the Vienna City Marathon is available at:

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