Vienna, AustriaBernard Barmasai, who has a personal best for the marathon of 2:08:52, and in his former career as a track runner was a World record holder for the 3000m Steeplechase (and still remains the third quickest best chaser of all time – 7:55.72) is one of the leading attractions of the men’s race at the 24th Vienna City Marathon on 29 April.
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With a 2:08:50 coming from his third place ion last year’s Paris Marathon and a 2:08:54 when narrowly being beaten later in 2006 in the Amsterdam Marathon, Barmasai is a credible candidate when it comes to threatening the Vienna course record which stands at 2:08:20 and was established by Lahoucine Mrikik (Morrocco) last year.
The 32-year-old Barmasai has run four marathons so far run in his career and will be aiming for his first victory in Vienna.
Barmasai will face stiff opposition
Luke Kibet, 24, who has exactly the same personal best as Barmasai, clocked his 2:08:52 in Eindhoven two years ago, where he finished third.
Frederick Cherono so far is 14 seconds quicker than his two fellow countrymen. He won the Turin Marathon in 2004 with 2:08:38. Additionally, he is the winner of the Rome Marathon from 2003 (2:08:47).
Also running in Vienna will be William Todoo Rotich, who took this year’s Dubai Marathon in January in 2:09:53 and now aims for further improvement in the Austrian capital. Another Kenyan, Abel Kirui, could be someone to watch. He recently won the Paderbon Half Marathon in 61:32 after a slow first part of the race.
In comparison, the women’s field will not be as promising as the men’s race, this is because the defending champion Tomo Morimoto had to cancel her start having suffered an ankle injury which unfortunately did not heal in time to resume training.
At least for the Austrian spectators this might be good news since local hero Susanne Pumper could now be in with a chance. The 36-year-old ran her marathon debut in Vienna last year. Coming in fourth with 2:32:21 she broke the Austrian record. In 2005 Pumper won the silver medal in the 3000m final of the European Indoor Championships.
But the favourite will probably be Romania’s Luminita Talpos, who enters the race with a personal best of 2:27:32.
Organisers of Austria’s biggest and most prestigious road race are expecting a field of more than 24,000 runners on 29 April. That includes other running events besides the marathon which are staged parallel to the marathon.
Andreas Maier for the IAAF