"Everybody waltz" -- this is the motto of the 31st edition of the Vienna City Marathon on 13th April. But who will waltz first? "If my race goes well I will waltz after crossing the finish line," says Anna Hahner. If the German is in good form she might be able to compete for a place on the podium in Vienna. However the favourites come from elsewhere: Kenya’s Caroline Chepkwony will be challenged by Mai Ito, who hopes to become the second Japanese athlete to take Austria’s biggest sporting event. Adding other running events staged parallel to the Vienna City Marathon on 13th April race organisers registered more than 40,000 entries. There are no bib numbers left for this IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Organisers released names for the women’s elite race today. Although Caroline Chepkwony looks to have a good chance to become the Vienna City Marathon champion a Kenyan win should not be taken for granted. The long history of the race shows there were only four Kenyan women who managed to finish first on Vienna’s impressive Heldenplatz. One of these wins came last year, and there is a parallel which might be a good omen for Chepkwony. In 2013 Flomena Cheyech improved her personal best by almost ten minutes when she ran 2:24:34. Before that Cheyech won the Rome Ostia half marathon with a personal best of 67:39. Chepkwony chose the same race schedule this year and was equally successful, taking the Italian half marathon in 68:48 on 2nd March. She beat fellow-Kenyan Sharon Cherop, the 2012 Boston Marathon champion, by three seconds.
It will be the third marathon for 29 year-old Caroline Chepkwony. After running her debut in Berlin with 2:30:34 in 2012 she won the Ljubljana race in October 2013, improving to 2:27:27. Japan’s Mai Ito has far more experience in marathon running and features a personal best of 2:25:26. She ran this time in 2012 when she finished fifth in Nagoya. Ito has been very consistent and achieved plenty of sub 2:30 times in recent years, but so far she has not managed to win a big marathon. The 29 year-old will hope to finally achieve this in Vienna, where there has been one Japanese victory so far: Tomo Morimoto won the race in 2006 with 2:24:33. However there might be a handicap to the Japanese, because she will run only seven weeks after finishing seventh in Tokyo with 2:28:36.
Russia’s Olga Glok, who ran her PB of 2:27:12 when finishing second in Vienna two years ago, and Alice Chelangat (Kenya/2:29:47) are also expected to challenge for podium places.
Anna Hahner will be paced by her twin sister Lisa and hopes to run well under 2:30 for the second time in her career. The 24 year-old significantly improved in Frankfurt last year, when she clocked 2:27:55. "In my preparations for Vienna I have trained in Spain and Kenya recently," said Anna Hahner, who together with her sister is coached by Italian Renato Canova since spring last year.
For more information please visit: Vienna-Marathon.com.
Anna Hahner during the BMW Frankfurt Marathon. Credit: www.photorun.net