Vulcanic cloud even spoilt meeting of Austrian President with the winners

Usually the winners of the Vienna City Marathon are met by Austria’s President Heinz Fischer on Monday after the race. This time however the visit had to cancelled. It was not because of other duties of the President. Mr. Fischer was ready and looked forward to meeting the runners at the famous ,Wiener Hofburg’ at lunchtime. But even this meeting was spoilt by the vulcanic cloud.

First organisers of the Vienna City Marathon had difficulties in getting some of the elite runners into the Austrian capital in the days leading to the event. Now they face a struggle in getting them back home. While most of the favourites had arrived in time last week before airports were closed one of those missing on Sunday was Kenya’s Wilson Kigen (PB: 2:08:16).

Additionally a group of pacemakers could not leave Kenya for Vienna, which probably had an effect on the results of the leading runners. “The pacemakers were supposed to go to 30 k. But the last one dropped out at 23 k. Noone pushed the pace after that,” said Henry Sugut (Kenya), who won the race in 2:08:40 in windy conditions.

While most of the elite runners made it to Vienna most of the foreign fun runners also turned up. “From our record entry of 32,940 runners in all events 3,798 did not start. 2,000 of these were foreign runners,” explained Andreas Maier, the Media Director of the Vienna City Marathon. Quite a number of them probably had no chance to fly to Vienna.

“At the first moment when I heard about the vulcanic cloud and some airport closures in Britain I did not realise all the consequences. Step by step it got worse and worse during the days before the race.

“And finally we learnt that the airplane needed for the TV signal would not be allowed to fly as well. But still the TV people from ORF put together a great live coverage,” said Race Director Wolfgang Konrad, whose team had arranged to meet late arrivals on Sunday morning to hand them their bib numbers and rush them to the start.

Since Vienna’s airport was reopened on Monday morning organisers made sure that as many elite athletes as possible could leave the city while others are taking trains. Among those who flew out were the winners, who missed meeting the President.

To meet Heinz Fischer, whose reelection is expected in the upcoming elections, Henry Sugut and Hellen Kimutai will have to come back and win next year’s Vienna City Marathon on 17th April 2010.

For more information please visit: or contact Andreas Maier (Press Officer) by phone (+43 650 350 1488) or E-mail:

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