The British world marathon record holderPaula Radcliffe got a 7:52 minutes head start in the half marathon chaserace against Ethiopia’s superstar Haile Gebrselassie. The advantage wasbased on the personal best times of the two athletes (those timescounted that were run on courses eligible for records). Radcliffe andGebrselassie had two runners each going into the race with them.
When HaileGebrselassie started the chase he quickly closed the gap significantly.At the 9 k point the advantage of Paula Radcliffe had been cut to 3:42minutes. And in the following five kilometres Haile closed in even more.Already after 15.3 k he then overtook Paula Radcliffe, who had sufferedof a bronchitis in the past two weeks and was clearly not at her best.“I shouted at her to hurry up,” said Haile Gebrselassie, who waved hishand when passing, trying to drive her on. But then the Ethiopian wassoon out of sight and crossed the line in 60:52 minutes. Paula Radliffevisibly struggled and could only manage 72:03, which means the actualtime difference was 11:11 minutes.
“Clearly Paula has been ill, otherwise shewould not have run so slow. I had expected that I could perhaps catchher around the 20 k mark. She had a bad day today, but this can happen.For me it was a nice race in tremendous atmosphere. I enjoyed italthough I had hoped to run a bit faster,” said Haile Gebrselassie.
“It was not goodat all for me. I had hoped for a time of around 69 minutes, but alreadyafter six, seven kilometres my legs felt very heavy,” said PaulaRadcliffe, who apologised to the organisers for not being able to dobetter. “There is nothing to say sorry for – Paula still put on a greatshow,” said Race Director Wofgang Konrad. “I don’t know at this pointwhat the reason is, it might be the bronchitis. This was supposed to bea test for the Olympic marathon, but in the end it was no test,” addedPaula Radcliffe.
While the OMV Champions Race drew a lot ofattention the performance of the day clearly came in the men’s marathon.Here Henry Sugut clocked the first sub 2:07 time in the history of therace and a personal best. He significantly improved the course recordset by the current World Champion Abel Kirui (Kenya) in 2008 with2:07:38.
Henry Sugut, who had won the Vienna CityMarathon already in 2010, finished in 2:06:58. The 26 year-old is thefirst man to repeat a victory in Vienna since 1992. Regarding the depthof the elite results Vienna saw the best marathon in the history of theevent. Behind Sugut two Kenyans ran inside 2:08 and another two finishedinside 2:09. Gilbert Yegon (2:07:38), defending champion John Kiprotich (2:07:44), GilbertKirwa (2:08:09) and Willy Kibor (2:08:32) took the places behind HenrySugut. Poland’s Artur Kozlowski was the best non-Kenyan runner. Hefinished eighth with 2:10:58.
After a more conservative first half with asplit time of 64:18 minutes the pace was picked up afterwards. At the 30k mark (1:30:19) Sugut, Kiprotich, Kirwa, Yegon and Kibor formed theleading group. The decisive moment came around the 38 k mark, whenSugut, who had entered the race with a personal best of 2:08:21, leftbehind Yegon and Kiprotich. “It was my aim to run sub 2:08, now I evenachievd a sub 2:07. So I am very happy. What really helped me running sofast was the strong opposition,” said Henry Sugut.
In the women’srace Fate Tola (Ethiopia) was in the lead from the start. The 24year-old, who is a training partner of Germany’s marathon record holderIrina Mikitenko and lives in Germany, clocked 2:26:39. The defendingchampion, who had run her personal best in Vienna last year with2:26:21, ran an even pace throughout.
When Fate Tola passed the half way mark in73:17 she had built a lead of 49 seconds. Running next to each other forthe whole race Olga Glok (Russia) and Helalia Johannes (Namibia) followed in 74:06. At 30 k it looked asif the chasing pair could still have a chance of catching Tola, becausethey had reduced the gap to 18 seconds. But at 35 k (2:01:19) Fate Tola,who speaks some German, had increased her advantage to 30 seconds again.In a close fight for second place Olga Glok finished in 2:27:18 twoseconds ahead of Helalia Johannes.
“To come back as the defending champion andwin again means a lot to me,” said Fate Tola, who had trained with IrinaMikitenko in Albuquerque (USA) recently. “When I saw that Irina ran wellin a German 10 k race last week that was a good sign for me.” Next yearFate Tola could become the first woman to win the Vienna City Marathonthree times in a row.
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