Organisers of the Vienna City Marathon will stage an unprecedented race on Sunday. For the first time a major international marathon will have an elite field with debutants only. Despite this fact it is expected that winning times will be in the region of recent years with results well under 2:10 in the men's race and under 2:30 in the women's event. Including shorter running events more than 28,000 athletes from 100 nations have entered the 26th edition of the Vienna City Marathon, which is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race. For the first time the race will be shown live on the internet at: www.vienna-marathon.com.
"At first it looked like it was going to be quite a challenge to put together a field of debutants only. But in the end it worked very well, because managers and athletes supported our idea," explained Race Director Wolfgang Konrad and added: "Despite having debutants only in our race we expect that winning times will be similar to recent years."
The first group of runners is expected to pass the half way point in around 64 minutes on Sunday. One who has asked for this pace is Joseph Maregu. The 31 year-old Kenyan has a promising personal half marathon best of 59:45 minutes from 2007. Last year he was 9th at the World Half Marathon Championships in Rio and had run 59:52 in Rotterdam earlier. "These half marathon results give me confidence regarding the marathon. I want to start my marathon career with a good time and hope to go for 2:07," said Joseph Maregu at Friday’s press conference in Vienna.
Another one who targets a 2:07 to 2.08 debut time is Jonathan Maiyo. The 21 year-old has run very good half marathons as well, clocking 60:10 and 60:12 minutes in Rotterdam in 2007 and 2008. “Additionally I have some sort of marathon experience, because I have been running in big events as a pacemaker,” explained Jonathan Maiyo. The Kenyan was pacing Haile Gebrselassie until half way during his Berlin world record race in 2008. Additionally he had been the pacemaker in Rotterdam in 2008 until the half marathon.
The biggest name in the field will be Reuben Kosgei. The Olympic Steeplechase Champion from Sydney 2000 takes quite a gamble, because he switched right from the Steeplechase to the marathon. "My last race was a Steeplechase last year. I did not do any other road races and wanted to go straight to the marathon. I want to be as successful on the road as I was on the track," said the 29 year-old Kenyan. Though he did not start preparations for the Vienna City Marathon until a good three months ago he did training runs of up to 38 kilometres. Reuben Kosgei will chose a more careful approach on Sunday. He will run in a group of athletes targeting a time of around 2:10. A third group of debutants will go for a 2:12 time. Among them will be Gunther Weidlinger (Austria).
To beat 2:30 will be the goal of Esther Mutuku. "I am looking forward to my first marathon," said the 24 year-old Kenyan, who has a half marathon best of 1:12:28. While Tiruwork Mekonnen (Ethiopia) has asked for a much quicker 2:25 pace it is expected that Andrea Mayr (Austria) will go for sub 2:35 on Sunday.
More information is available at: www.vienna-marathon.com.
Reuben Kosgei, Race Director Wolfgang Konrad and Gunther Weidlinger in Vienna. All three were world-class Steeplechasers. Photo: asiphoto.net