Kenya’s Samwel Mailu smashed the nine year-old course record of the Vienna City Marathon when he stormed over the finish line at the Vienna Burgtheater in 2:05:08 Austria’s President Alexander Van der Bellen held the finishing tape. Despite warm conditions during the second half of the race the 30 year-old was 33 seconds quicker than the former course record holder Getu Feleke of Ethiopia who had clocked 2:05:41 back in 2014. Fellow Kenyans Bethwell Yegon and Titus Kimutai followed with 2:06:57 and 2:07:46 in second and third.
There was a Kenyan double triumph in the women’s race: Magdalyne Masai took the race with 2:24:12 from Agnes Keino, who ran 2:24:25. Ethiopia’s Gadise Mulu was third with 2:24:50. Austria’s Julia Mayer broke the national record by the tiniest of margins: With 2:30:42 she finished eighth and improved the time by one second.
Including events at shorter distances 39,871 athletes were registered for the 40th edition of the Vienna City Marathon, which is a World Athletics Elite Label Road Race. 9,218 of those were marathon runners.
With temperatures climbing to around 20 Celsius in unexpectedly sunny conditions during the second half of the jubilee race the men’s leading group was running a consistently fast pace. After a 29:43 10k split time a group of eleven runners including three pacemakers reached half way in 62:43. The pace continued to be fast and the group then partly broke up between 26 and 28k in the Prater Park, where Eliud Kipchoge had broken the two hour barrier back in 2019. When the leaders reached 30k in 1:29:13 there were six runners still in contention and it was an all Kenyan affair: Bethwell Yegon, Samwel Mailu, Titus Kimutai, Joshua Kogo, Bernard Chepkwony and debutant Elvis Cheboi. The later two then lost contact soon while Mailu started to pull away. Between 32 and 33k he had a lead of around 10 metres over Kimutai and another 15 metres over Yegon. While these gaps grew considerably in the final five kilometers Yegon was able to overtake Kimutai for second place.
But there was no way of catching Samwel Mailu, who had run an unexpected marathon debut in Frankfurt last autumn. He was a pacemaker but then continued to run and finished second with 2:07:19. “The race in Frankfurt gave me a lot of motivation. For me today was a kind of another marathon debut. This was my biggest career win,“ said Samwel Mailu.
Sondre Moen was the fastest European runner in Vienna in eighth position. But with a time of 2:10:23 the Norwegian missed his goal of a sub 2:10 finish. This was also the aim for Germany’s Sebastian Hendel who ran 2:11:29 for ninth place. There was more disappointment for Andreas Vojta of Austria. He lost contact to the group well before the 20k mark and finished in 14th position with 2:19:27.
In contrast the women never really startet the planned attack on the course record. With slower split times than expected there were initially eleven runners in the first group. Once the pace picked up a bit the group was reduced to seven at the 10k mark (33:48). Six women then reached half way in 72:04: Kenyans Viseline Jepkesho, Magdalyne Masai, Rebecca Tanui, Agnes Keino as well as Ethiopians Gadise Mulu and Nurit Shimels. Tanui and Shimels were then dropped while the other four passed the 30k mark in 1:41:58.
With little over seven kilometers to go Agnes Keino made a move in the Prater Park. The winner of last year’s Munich Marathon was approximately 15 metres ahead of Magdalyne Masai, but she could not increase her advantage. Instead Masai came back and overtook her Kenyan rival soon afterwards. “ It was a perfect race for me. I ran well and had some energy left for the last couple of kilometers. I have prepared for the Vienna City Marathon since January. I am very happy to have won, but I would have like to run a bit faster than 2:24,“ 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.
Among the races staged parallel to the marathon there was a new 5k event which took place in the heart of Vienna on Saturday evening. Over 1,800 runners participated in this event. While this is not designed as an elite race there were some fast times and even a national record: Women’s winner Klara Lukan clocked 15:32 and broke the Slovenian 5k record. 18 year-old Austrian talent Emil Bezecny took the men’s race with 14:57.