Getu Feleke en route to winning the 2014 Vienna City Marathon (© Organisers / www.photorun.net)
Getu Feleke overcame stomach problems in the final stages of the 31st edition of the Vienna City Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, to win in a course record time of 2:05:41 on Sunday (13).
The Ethiopian sped away from the leading group just after 30 kilometres to take more than a minute off the previous course record of 2:06:58, clocked by Kenya’s Henry Sugut in 2012.
"In the last two kilometres I had problems with my stomach. I could have been faster," reflected Feleke, who ended a Kenyan winning streak in the Austrian capital which stretched back to 2007.
An eight man group went through the halfway point in 1:02:42 to suggest that the course record was going to be substantially improved upon, and 30km was reached in 1:28:48 before Feleke put in his burst of acceleration, covering the 31st kilometre in just 2:46.
“Before I pushed the pace I had a look at the others and thought that I should go," explained Feleke after the race.
Running on his own and unchallenged, Feleke reached 35km in 1:43.48 with his nearest rivals around 40 seconds and held his form all the way to the line while his opponents continued to drift further back.
Kenya’s Alfred Kering finished a distant second in 2:08:28, nearly three minutes behind the winner, while his compatriot Philip Kimutai was third in 2:08:58.
In ideal overcast conditions and with temperatures around 12 degrees Celsius, three-time winner and defending champion Sugut lost touch with the leaders started to struggle at around 15 kilometres and quit the race shortly afterwards.
"It was a very good race except for the wind," said Feleke. "There was strong wind between the 24th and 26th kilometre and when I was running alone after 30 kilometres."
Feleke, who set his personal best of 2:04:50 when finishing second at the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon, was returning to the race where he made his marathon debut five years ago. He became the first Ethiopian winner in Austrian capital since Moges Taye in 1998.
"This is my lucky city," Feleke said. "It's not my best time but it is a great win."
Germany’s Anna Hahner won the women’s race in 2:28:59. In a dramatic finale, she pulled away from Kenya’s Caroline Chepkwony just 300 metres from the line.
Chepkwony finished second in 2:29:18, 19 seconds in arrears while Ethiopia’s Marta Lema was third in 2:31:10.
"I just can't believe it," said Hahner."I was running in fourth and started thinking that reaching the podium could be possible. When I was in second, people along the road shouted that Caroline had almost come to a standstill.
“I passed her and just didn't look back," added the delighted German after arguably the biggest win of her career, although she was just over a minute outside her best of 2:27:55 set when finishing eighth at last year’s Frankfurt Marathon.
Chepkwony and the Japanese runner Mai Ito passed the halfway point in an audacious 1:12:13 with Hahner almost two minutes behind in fifth place, but she had measured her effort much better than the other elite women and ran a strong second half to pass everyone in front of her, including Chepwkony who had been struggling since 40km.
Hahner was the first German winner in Vienna since Christa Vahlensiek in 1989.
A record number of 42,078 runners from 127 nations entered the marathon and the associated races, including a half marathon.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF