Caroline Chepkwony hopes to take revenge when she returns to the Vienna City Marathon to compete against defending champion Anna Hahner. The Kenyan was sensationally beaten by Germany’s rising marathon star a year ago when she faded badly in the final stages. Organisers hope for a similarly thrilling women’s contest on 12th April. A total of seven women with personal bests between 2:25 and 2:30 are on the start list. Defending champion Getu Feleke is the favourite in the men’s race. The Vienna City Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Last April Caroline Chepkwony looked certain to take a second marathon victory in a row. The 2013 Lubljana champion, who clocked her personal best of 2:27:27 in that race, was almost two and a half minutes ahead at the 35 k point. However the picture changed dramatically in the final few miles. The Kenyan suffered of stomach problems and could barely jog. With 300 metres to go Anna Hahner passed her and stormed to a totally unexpected victory in this Gold Label Road Race. The German clocked 2:28:59 with Chepkwony 19 seconds behind in second place. Later in the year Anna Hahner confirmed her performance when she improved to 2:26:44 in the Berlin Marathon.
The fastest runner in the field comes from Ethiopia: Fate Tola, who hopes to receive German citizenship soon, will return after maternity leave. The 27 year-old has great memories of the Vienna City Marathon. She won the event two times in a row, in 2011 and 2012. Fate Tola, who has a personal best of 2:25:14, is not expected to be in top form yet. But she recently won a half marathon race in Frankfurt with 1:13:41.
Another runner who has won a major marathon in the past is Japan’s Noriko Higuchi. She took Tokyo’s race in 2011 with 2:28:49. South Africa’s Rene Kalmer, who has run 2:29:27, and Maja Neuenschwander, whose personal record is 2:29:42, are the other two women with sub 2:30 times. Switzerland’s Neuenschwander showed fine form recently when she took The Hague half marathon in 1:11:08. “I was able to improve a little bit year by year. If weather conditions are fine I hope to run a 2:28 or 2:27 time,” said Maja Neuenschwander.
With so many women having won major races already this could become one of the best women’s races in the history of the Vienna City Marathon.
In contrast the men’s race at present looks like there is one big favourite: Defending champion Getu Feleke, who ran a course record of 2:05:41 last year. It is this mark he hopes to further improve in Vienna next month. Feleke’s personal best stands at 2:04:50. Two fellow-Ethiopians will be among his strongest rivals: Sisay Lemma was fifth in January’s Dubai Marathon with 2:07:06 and Gebo Burka has a fresh personal best as well. He was second in Houston this winter with 2:08:12.