Italian women have played significant roles in the history of the Vienna City Marathon, which will celebrate its 30th edition on 14th April. They have won the race three times and the course record still belongs to Maura Viceconte, who had run 2:23:47 back in 2000. So it is no surprise that there is an Italian name on the list of the elite women, which were announced today by the organisers. Rosaria Console is one of four athletes with personal bests of sub 2:27. The 33 year-old returns to the scene where she triumphed nine years ago. Console will hope to add another successful Italian chapter to the history of Austria’s most prestigious road race. But she will meet tough opposition in Vienna. Including other running events a record number of more than 40,000 athletes have registered for the anniversary race. The Vienna City Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Elite runners for the men’s events had been announced earlier. Haile Gebrselassie will return for the half marathon, which will be staged parallel to the marathon race. The Ethiopian superstar hopes to win the OMV Champions Race for the third time in a row. The marathon will see the return of the defending champion as well: Henry Sugut (Kenya) will face tough opposition in Vienna. In 2012 he became the first runner to break 2:07 on Austrian soil with a time of 2:06:58.
In contrast the women’s course record has not been broken in the past twelve editions of the Vienna City Marathon. Back in 2000 Maura Viceconte became the first Italian to win this race, clocking 2:23:47. Two more Italian winners followed a few years later: First Lucilla Andreucci took the race with 2:35:32 in 2003, then Rosaria Console ran 2:29:22 in what probably still ranks as her biggest marathon win. Her personal best is just one and a half years old, which shows that the 33 year-old is still going strong. It was in Berlin in 2011 where she ran 2:26:10.
Rosaria Console is the third fastest runner entered for the women’s elite field of the Vienna City Marathon. Two Ethiopians have superior times: Kebebush Haile won in Shanghai in 2011 with 2:24:09. However last year did not go that well for her. She was fifth in the Düsseldorf Marathon with 2:29:02. In contrast Meskerem Assefa had a fine debut more recently: She was third in Houston this January with 2:25:17 despite poor weather conditions. Her switch to the marathon was quite a surprise. The 27 year-old had been a 1,500 m runner and had not run further in competition than 10 k. Meskerem Assefa was in the Olympic 1,500 m semi final last year in London. At this distance she had won a silver medal at the African Championships in 2008. The fourth runner with a personal best of sub 2:27 comes from Kenya: Emily Samoei won the Barcelona Marathon a year ago with 2:26:52, improving by almost eight minutes.
A staggering improvement like the one from Emily Samoei could well happen on Vienna’s roads on 14th April as well. Filomena Cheyech Daniel has a personal best of 2.34:13. But the 30 year-old Kenyan comes to Vienna after winning the Rome Ostia Half Marathon recently in a world-class time of 67:39 minutes. This indicates that she is a serious contender for victory in Vienna. If she can transform her half marathon form to the full distance she might even be able to break Maura Viceconte’s course record.