Henry Sugut hopes to achieve an unprecedented fourth victory when he returns for the Vienna City Marathon on 13th April. The Kenyan won the biggest spring road race in German speaking territory in 2010, 2012 and 2013. But Sugut will not face an easy task when going for a hattrick in Vienna. Among his challengers are five runners with personal bests of sub 2:08. The Vienna City Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race. Adding other running events staged parallel to the marathon organisers registered more than 41,000 entries for the 31st edition of the race.
“Vienna is my city. I am always doing well here. Whenever I come to Vienna my self confidence is high,” said Henry Sugut. Indeed there is no other place where he has been as successful as in Vienna. Three of his four fastest marathons he ran here. His 2:06:58 winning time of 2012 still stands as his personal best and as the course record as well. The 28 year-old will hope to continue this success in the Austrian capital on 13th April. Regarding a possible unique fourth victory he said: “That would be great if I could achieve that.”
Among his rivals there is the only other Vienna winner apart from Sugut since 2010: John Kiprotich won the 2011 edition when Sugut was absent. The Kenyan clocked 2:08:28 that year and then improved to 2:07:08 in Amsterdam in October. This remains his personal best, but the 59:23 the 30 year-old ran in a half marathon suggests he could be faster.
But neither Sugut nor Kiprotich is the one with the fastest personal best on the current start list. This position is taken by Philip Kimutai, who ran 2:06:07 in Frankfurt for fourth place in 2011. He then clocked sub 2:07 times again in the following two years, 2:06:51 in Seoul in 2012 and 2:06:57 in Paris 2013. Kimutai recently showed fine form, when he achieved a personal best in the half marathon with 60:57 in the Rome Ostia race.
Three more Kenyans will travel to Vienna after they have run under 2:08 in recent years: Alfred Kering was second in Paris in 2010 with 2:07:11, Moses Kigen took 12th position in the high-class Dubai Marathon 2012 in 2:07:45 and Duncan Koech was third in Cologne in that year in 2:07:53.
While Henry Sugut chases history in the Vienna City Marathon Ryo Yamamoto will achieve something unique by just appearing on the start line. Never before has a Japanese male elite athlete competed in this event. The 29 year-old ran his personal best of 2:08:44 two years ago at Lake Biwa. With that he managed to be on the highly contested Japanese Olympic Marathon team. However in London Yamamoto had to be content with 40th place.
Regarding victory in Vienna a surprise is more likely to come from Wilfred Kirwa Kigen. The Kenyan is the seond fastest runner ever at the 25 k distance. He clocked 1:11:29 in the Berlin 25 k race in 2012. Last September Kigen ran his marathon debut in Berlin and followed the world record pace by the first group. He was among the leaders until around 30 k, but then faltered and dropped out. With a less fast approach in Vienna Kigen could be much more successful.