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A year ago organisiers of the Vienna City Marathon made headlines by staging a unique debutants’ only elite race. While the experiment worked well there had never been a doubt that Vienna would return to common procedures in 2010.
Sunday’s 27th edition of Austria’s biggest athletics event will feature plenty of experienced marathon runners. In fact the field is the strongest ever seen in a running event in Austria. Eight men have entered the race with personal bests of sub 2:10. Kenya’s Felix Limo and Romania’s Luminita Talpos are regarded as the favourites, but there are a number of others who are capable of challenging those two.
With a personal best of 2:06:14, which he had clocked when winning Rotterdam in 2004, Felix Limo is the fastest runner ever entered into the Vienna City Marathon. After wins in Berlin, Chicago and London in 2004 and 2005 Felix Limo had more quiete years in 2008 and 2009.
“I had a back problem, which took some time to solve. But it is okay now,” said Felix Limo, who feels ready for running between 2:07 and 2:08.
“This is the reason why I have chosen to run the Vienna City Marathon this spring. I am not able now to run sub 2:06. So it made more sense to come here than going for the London Marathon. For me Vienna is some sort of a comeback race,” explained the 29 year-old Kenyan.
The last time he ran a marathon is not that long ago: Limo finished seventh in Seoul in November with 2:13:13. But he thinks he is ready for a more ,Limo like’ result now.
“If I can achieve a time between 2:07 and 2:08 in Vienna then it would be a good indication for me and a great motivation for my training. I would then be confident that I can get back to my best and run 2:06 again,” said Felix Limo, who had done an average weekly training of 180 to 200 kilometres. His longest training runs were 38 k.
“Limo prepared in Eldoret, where he trains in a big group. Among his training partners is Emmanuel Mutai, whose personal best is just one second slower than Limo’s. Mutai will run in London next week. Another one with whom Limo trains is Paul Biwott. The Kenyan, who will turn 32 on race day, has improved to 2:07:02 when taking third place in Amsterdam 2009. Two years ago Biwott had also been third in Vienna with 2:08:53.
“Paul was stronger than me in training. But that had been the case before. When it came to competition it was the other way round. So we have to wait and see what will happen on Sunday.” Asked about the planned half marathon split time of 63:40 minutes for the first group Limo said: “No problem for me – this is not so fast.”
Luke Kibet is another prominent name in the Vienna City Marathon. Three years ago he triumphed in a warm weather race in Vienna and then went on to take the World Championships’ gold medal in Osaka in the same year. Again and again Luke Kibet had suffered from injuries after the triumph in Japan.
His Achilles tendon caused problems when he won the Singapore Marathon in December with a course record of 2:11:35. Because of the problems Kibet, who has a personal best of 2:08:52, chose to be reserved regarding his goals for Sunday: “I hope to run well. But I have to see how it goes with my Achilles tendon.”
In the women’s field Luminita Talpos has plenty of Vienna City Marathon experience. After wins in 2007 and 2008 the 37 year-old Romanian intends to become the first woman to take three Vienna triumphs.
“I am really happy to be back in Vienna,” said Luminita Talpos, who has clocked her personal best of 2:26:43 two years ago in the Austrian capital.
“It is difficult to estimate what time I will be capable of running, but I target a half marathon split time of 1:14 to 1:15. The main thing for me will be winning the race, the time is not that important,” said Luminita Talpos, who in contrast to many of the European marathon runners had no problems during the winter with snow.
“I am living in Boulder and conditions were much better than in most parts of Europe,” said Luminita Talpos.
The good knowledge of the course might be an advantage for Luminita Talpos. But Hellen Kimutai, who probably is her strongest rival in the race for victory, has been in Vienna as well. It was back in 2000, when the Kenyan finished second here with 2:26:54. Hellen Kimutai has been amazingly consistent over the years. Six times she has run faster than 2:27. And her personal best of 2:25:53 is even faster than that of Luminita Talpos.
Live web stream and English information on Sunday
A record number of more than 32,500 runners have entered the 27th edition of the Vienna City Marathon. This figure includes races at shorter distances. Austria’s biggest and best quality running event can be watched live on the internet.
The live stream will be available on www.vienna-marathon.com from 8.40 am on Sunday. While the TV coverage shown on the web will be in German there will be a live web report on the same page including information in English.
Vienna City Marathon celebrates 2,500 years of marathon running
This year marks a unique jubilee for marathon running and the Vienna City Marathon celebrates the occasion. It is 2,500 years ago that the marathon was born, when the Battle of Marathon took place in Greece 490 BC. To announce the Greek victory against the Persians the messenger Pheidippidis is said to have run the distance from the battlefield to Athens.
After doing so he collapsed and died. To mark the birth of the marathon a flame is lighted annually at a tomb on the former battlefield. Representatives of the Vienna City Marathon received a smaller flame in a lantern and brought it back to Vienna.
A ceremony took place at the townhall of the Austrian capital and the flame is featuring during race weekend. Runners will pass it in the finish area at the Wiener Hofburg. “The marathon is the only sports event based on a mythos. We recognize that a lot of our runners are proud to be part of this great history,” said Wolfgang Konrad, the Race Director of the Vienna City Marathon.
More information about the Vienna City Marathon is available at: www.vienna-marathon.com