The course record and the Austrian record could be under threat at Sunday’s Vienna City Marathon and with them two major barriers that are ten minutes apart. While the current course best stands at 2:20:59 and an attack on that might lead to a first sub 2:20 winning time in the history of the Vienna City Marathon, no Austrian woman has ever run under 2:30. A strong group of Kenyan runners are the favorites with four of them featuring personal bests of sub 2:24. Close to her hometown Julia Mayer hopes to write Austrian marathon history on Sunday. Organisers of Austria’s major running event have registered more than 39,000 entries including races at shorter distances. Over 9,000 of them are marathon runners. The Vienna City Marathon is a World Athletics Elite Label Road Race.
Women’s course records used to be very rare for the first two decades of this century. Back in 2000 the late Italian Maura Viceconte clocked 2:23:47 and this mark then stood for almost 20 years. In 2019 Kenya’s Nancy Kiprop finally improved the record to 2:22:12. However this time the mark survived only one edition of the Vienna City Marathon and was then broken by Vibian Chepkirui. The Kenyan clocked 2:20:59 a year ago.
Kenyans Visiline Jepkesho (2:21:37), Magdalyne Masai (2:22:16), Rebecca Tanui (2:23:09) and Agnes Keino (2:23:26) are the ones who have entered the race with PBs of sub 2:24. Preparing for Vienna Magdalyne Masai showed fine form when she ran 67:07 in the Rome Ostia half marathon little over a month ago. “This PB gives me a positive feeling for Vienna. I hope to be able to fight for victory and break the course record,“ said Magdalyne Masai, who is the younger sister of the 2009 World 10,000 m Champion Linet Masai and of Moses Masai, the bronze medallist at these championships over 10,000 m.
Visiline Jepkesho is the fastest woman on the start list. Coming back after maternity leave she will run her first marathon since 2019, hoping to come back strongly. Supported by Brother Colm O’Connell in Iten, Kenya, she has won a number of marathons, among them Paris in 2016 and Rotterdam two years later. While it will be interesting to see if she can achieve a result in the region of her 2:21:37 PB fellow-Kenyans Rebecca Tanui and Agnes Keino intend to break their personal records in Vienna. “However I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself,“ said Rebecca Tanui, who took the San Sebastián Marathon last year with 2:23:09. Agnes Keino also clocked her PB of 2:23:26 in 2022, when she won the Munich Marathon, defeating former World Champion Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia. “I am in better shape than before Munich and I want to break my PB in Vienna. If conditions are good then a time of 2:21 could become a target,“ said Agnes Keino.
No Austrian woman has ever run a sub 2:30 marathon. This barrier could be broken at the Vienna City Marathon on Sunday by Julia Mayer. The 30 year-old from Vienna did run one marathon before, however this was not a serious debut. During the pandemic she competed in an elite only race in the Vienna Prater Park and clocked 2:46:35 in December 2020. It was in this race, when Eva Wutti broke the Austrian record with a time of 2:30:43 that still stands today. She will be competing on Sunday as well. Last year Julia Mayer improved the Austrian half marathon record to 71:13, a time that indicates that she should be capable of breaking 2:30.
“I am really looking forward to the Vienna City Marathon. The Prater Park is my training ground. I have prepared well with a weekly milage of around 200 kilometers,“ said Julia Mayer, who came close to her half marathon record in March when she was fourth in Gent with 71:31. „My big goal is to break the Austrian record and run a sub 2:30 time. In near future I then hope to run 2:26 and achieve the Olympic qualifying time.“
Sunday’s Vienna City Marathon has some historic relevance this year as well. It is the first time since at least the period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with its dual monarchy, which ended 105 years ago in 1918, that national marathon championships for Austria and Hungary will be held in the same event. There will of course be separate rankings for Austrian and Hungarian runners on Sunday. With a personal best of 2:35:37 Zsofia Erdélyi is the favorite in the race for the Hungarian title.
ELITE WOMEN RUNNERS: