Anna Hahner prepared in Bekele’s training camp for another duel with Caroline Chepkwony in Vienna
With a different tactical approach Caroline Chepkwony hopes to succeed at her second attempt in Sunday’s Vienna City Marathon. The Kenyan had a big lead a year ago, but then faltered in the final stages and was overtaken by Anna Hahner. The German winner from 2014 is back in Vienna as well to defend her title. "It has always been my priority to return to the Vienna City Marathon as a defending champion. You never know how ofter you get the opportunity to start a race wearing bib number 1. This is a great motivation for me," said Anna Hahner. With seven runners featuring personal bests between 2:25 and 2:30 a thrilling women’s contest is on the cards. The Vienna City Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
"I have of course superb memories of last year’s race. So it feels really great to be back in Vienna," said Anna Hahner during today’s press conference. The 25 year-old, who ran 2:28:59 a year ago and then improved her personal best to 2:26:44 in last year’s Berlin Marathon, caused a major upset when she won the Vienna City Marathon. This year the set-up is different. "I am the defending champion, so yes, I belong to the favourites. I look forward to the race and I am ready," said Anna Hahner, who is coached by Renato Canova. Since the Italian became the coach of Kenenisa Bekele last autumn the training base was switched from Kenya to Ethiopia. Anna Hahner went there this winter for almost six weeks together with her twin sister Lisa.
"It was an inspiring experience to train together with the Ethiopian world-class runners," said Anna Hahner. However it was a bit adventurous as well. "We stayed at Kenenisa’s new training camp in Sululta. Sometimes the electricity or the water would go off. Once we had no water for one and a half days. But we still enjoyed it and had great conditions for training," said Anna Hahner, whose twin sister was very unlucky when they ran a 10 k test race after returning from Ethiopia. Lisa’s spring season is all over after she suffered a stress fracture in her left leg. "It was really bad luck for Lisa and I feel very sorry for her. We are together a lot and we always stay positive."
A podium finish is the aim for Anna Hahner on Sunday. The fastest third placer in the history of the Vienna City Marathon was Kenya’s Peninah Arusei who ran 2:27:17. From the statistics’ point of view Anna Hahner should have a good chance of reaching that goal. "I can not really compare my form to last year since the training was different. But we have done more sessions running more than 40 k than before." A time in the range of around 2:28 is a goal since the German national qualifying standard for the Olympics is expected to be between 2:28:30 and 2:29:00. "I want to show early that I am ready for Rio," said Anna Hahner.
During her final preparations for the Vienna City Marathon she watched the video of last year’s race. "I like films with a happy end – and this was one for me of course," she joked. Caroline Chepkwony will be less keen to see last year’s film again. "I had stomach cramps in the final part of the race and I nearly collapsed", recalled the 30 year-old Kenyan, who just managed to finish second in 2:29:18 and needed medical treatment afterwards.
While she broke away relatively early during last year’s race Caroline Chepkwony intends to go for a different approach this time. "I expect a good competition. I can not say that I will win, but I hope to do well and to break my personal best." Back in 2013 she won the Ljubljana Marathon with 2:27:27.
There are a couple of other women who have the potential to do well on Sunday. Fate Tola of Ethiopia is the fastest in the field with a personal best of 2:25:14. However the Vienna City Marathon Champion from 2011 and 2012 will run her first marathon after maternity leave and might not be in top shape yet. Switzerland’s Maja Neuenschwander hopes to improve her personal best of 2:29:49 while Esther Chemtai is one of the favourites. The Kenyan has a PB of 2:28:41.
Women’s main contenders with personal bests
Fate Tola ETH 2:25:14
Anna Hahner GER 2:26:44
Caroline Chepkwony KEN 2:27:27
Esther Chemtai KEN 2:28:41
Noriko Higuchi JPN 2:28:49
Rene Kalmer RSA 2:29:27
Maja Neuenschwander SUI 2:29:42
Agnes Mutune KEN 2:33:34
For more information please visit: Vienna-Marathon.com.
Maja Neuenschwander, Anna Hahner, Caroline Chepkwony and Noriko Higuchi (from left to right) at Thursday’s press conference in Vienna. Photo: www.photorun.net