John Kiprotich of Kenya and Ethiopian Fate Tola were the unexpected winners of the 28th Vienna City Marathon on Sunday (17) while Haile Gebrselassie clocked 1:00:18 in the Half Marathon.
Running in fine conditions, the 22-year-old Kiprotich improved his personal best by more than seven minutes and clocked 2:08:29. Patrick Ivuti took second with 2:08:41 and Evans Kiplagat was third in 2:09:22. Isaac Macharia (Kenya) also broke 2:10 with 2:09:43 to finish fourth in a race in which Kenyans took the first eight places.
It was different story in the women's race where Tola, 23, took the victory for Ethiopia after she drew away from Portugal's Ana Dulce Felix in the closing stages of a thrilling race. Tola clocked a personal best of 2:26:21 while Felix was nine seconds back in 2:26:30. Kenyan Peninah Arusei, who had long been in the lead, was third with 2:27:17. For the first time in the history of the race five women ran under 2:30. Genet Getaneh (Ethiopia/2:28:08) was fourth and Elza Kireyeva (Russia/2:29:41) finished fifth.
In the Half Marathon, Gebrselassie, the World record holder in the Marathon, was chasing the elite marathon runners, who had started two minutes earlier. he had already caught and passed the leading group between kilometres 11 and 12 and ran the rest of the distance alone at the fromt.
“My time is okay," said Gebrselassie, whose performance was an Austria all-comers record. "It is not so easy to break one hour if you are running alone and without pacemakers.”
More than 300,000 spectators lined the streets, many who had come to witness the great Ethiopian running through their Austrian capital. Fitting to the occasion organisers had put down a red carpet on the final 100 metres of the race, which finished at the Wiener Hofburg. Men's race -
In the first part of the men’s race the favourites somehow did not quite adapt to the pace. That caused the rabbits to be a couple of seconds ahead of the lead group again and again. Even at the half way mark, which was reached in 1:03:53, they were three seconds ahead of those who should have been with them. Nonetheless the course record, which Kenyan Abel Kirui established three years ago with 2:07:38, was still within reach.
But somehow the experienced Kenyans like Ivuti, Nicholas Chelimo and Paul Kirui concentrated on a tactical race and were not interested in increasing the pace. By the 30Km mark (1:31:31) the course record was more or less out of reach. Additionally the two remaining pacemakers, Nicholas Kiprono and Joseph Ngolepus, had dropped out. By 35Km the lead group of eight was reduced to four: Ivuti, Kiplagat, Joseph Maregu and Kiprotich. Maregu and Kiplagat could not keep up much longer and it was then that Kiprotich applied the pressure on Ivuti. With four kilometres to go the 22 year-old started to open a decisive gap.
“This was only my second marathon. If I had had more experience maybe I would have taken the initiative earlier,” said Kiprotich, who has a half marathon PB of 59:23. He easily surpassed his previous best of 2:15:51 from Frankfurt in 2009.
Women's race -
The women’s race developed completely differently with debutante Arusei running fast right after the start. She was soon all on her own and reached the midway point in 1:12:11. At 25Km (1:25:18) Arusei was still on pace for a 2:24 finish and she was 1:14 ahead of Felix, Tola and Getaneh, the fastest in the field pre-race with a PB of 2:26:37. But before 30Km Arusei clearly began to slow and her advantage started melting quickly in the sun.
While Getaneh began to falter as well Felix, who had her own pacemaker in front of her, Tola overtook Arusei at around 37Km. There was a tough fight for victory between Tola and Felix. At the beginning of the final kilometre the young Ethiopian, who had come to Vienna with a personal best of 2:28:22, could break away. “After half way I knew that I would have a chance,” said Tola.
Combining all the events the 28th edition of the Vienna City Marathon had 32,542 entries. This is the second highest figure in the history of the event. 8,044 runners had entered the marathon.