Kenyans took both wins in the Vienna City Marathon for the first time in the history of the event. Henry Sugut was a surprise winner with 2:08:40 while Hellen Kimutai clocked 2:31:08. A strong headwind in parts of the race had slowed the elite runners considerably.
The men’s race had started fast and it looked as if the course record of 2:07:38 could be broken. Temperatures were ideal at the start with 8 degrees Celsius and sunshine. Accordingly the first split times were very fast. The leading group passed the 5Km point in 14:50 and had reached 10Km in 30:07. But then unfortunately the wind picked up strongly, pacemakers tired early and split times slowed. Soon after they passed half way in 1:04:30 the last pacemaker dropped out. In the windy conditions none of the 11 runners in the lead at 25Km (1:16:15) increased the pace.
After they had passed 30 kilometres (1:32:19) four runners broke away: Sugut and his fellow Kenyans Paul Kimugul and Joseph Lomala as well as Ethiopia’s Mesfin Ademasu. It was then with around five kilometres to go, that Sugut surged away from this group. The 24-year-old Kenyan had only run one marathon before (3rd in Reims with 2:10:45 in 2009) and thus was not among the pre-race favourites. Clocking 2:08:40 in Vienna on Sunday he improved his personal best by more than two minutes despite the wind. Lomala took second place with 2:09:32, also clocking a personal best. Ademasu was third with 2:09:41.
Fourth placed Henryk Szost (Poland) established a European seaon’s best with 2:10:27 while Austria’s big hope Günther Weidlinger suffered of a calf muscle problem and came in 12th with 2:14:05.
Pre-race favourite Felix Limo of Kenya had to be content with seventh place in 2:11:34 while his fellow-countryman Luke Kibet, Kenya’s World Marathon champion from 2007, had dropped out soon after the start with a calf or Achilles tendon injury.
“I am really happy and very proud to have won this race," Sugut said. "Next time I hope to further improve my personal best. “When the pacemakers dropped out early I did not want to push that early. Instead I waited until 30 k.”
In the women’s race a group of four reached the half way mark in 1:14:40. Among them were defending champion Andrea Mayr of Austria, the two-time Vienna winner Luminita Talpos (Romania/2007 and 2008) plus Irene Mogaka and Kimutai. The two Kenyans then took the lead before the 25Km point and started opening a substantial gap. It was then that Mogaka who took the lead, building a six-secon lead with seen kilometres to go. But then the Kenyan could not maintain the pace and Kimutai overtook her with five kilometres to go. The 32-year-old Kimutai, who had been second in Vienna 10 years ago, won with 2:31:08, followed by Mogaka (2:31:28) and Olha Kalenarova-Ochal (Ukraine/2:33:05), who showed a strong finish coming from well behind. Talpos came in fourth with 2:33:37 the Mayr (2:34:09) finished fifth.
“I knew Vienna is a good race, otherwise I would not have come back here,” said Kimutai, who has a personal best of 2:25:52. Asked about how she manages to run at this level for such a long time with four children (11 and 8 years old plus twins aged 6) she replied, “My husband, who is a farmer and also helps me in training, takes care about the children. I owe my success to him.” Kimutai will head back to Kenya with 15,000 Euros to boost the family’s bank account. Sugut collected the same amount for his vitcory
The 27th edition of Austria’s biggest and best quality running event registered a record number of 32,940 runners from 108 nations.