Nancy Kiprop will return to the Vienna City Marathon on Sunday (22) in even better form than she was in when winning at the IAAF Gold Label road race 12 months ago.
Last year in unfavourable conditions the 38-year-old Kenyan clocked 2:24:20, the second-fastest women’s time in the history of the race and just 33 seconds shy of the course record set 18 years ago by Italy’s Maura Viceconte.
After winning in the Austrian capital, Kiprop went on to smash her half-marathon PB with 1:07:22 in Ust Nad Labem and finished second at the Honolulu Marathon. More recently, she won the Venloop Half Marathon in 1:07:49, smashing the course record by more than two minutes.
“It is my goal to run faster than last year and break the course record,” said Kiprop, who, after a career spanning almost 20 years, is not yet thinking about retirement. “The future looks promising; I feel I am getting younger, not older.”
Kiprop will likely need to be near to her best to win again in Vienna as she’ll face three runners with superior PBs.
With a best of 2:22:51, set when finishing fourth in Berlin last year, Helen Tola is the fastest in the field.
“I wouldn’t say that I am the favourite,” said the Ethiopian, “but I have trained well.”
Fellow Ethiopian Fatuma Sado also hopes to set a personal best. Earlier this year she won the Xiamen Marathon in 2:26:41, her fastest time since setting a PB of 2:24:16 in 2015.
Merima Mohammed’s PB of 2:23:06, set in 2010, dates back even further. The Bahraini athlete ran the Nagoya Marathon little more than a month ago and so might not be running on fresh legs in Vienna.
“Although it might get quite warm during the race, we still hope that the course record will finally be broken,” said race director Wolfgang Konrad.
Dennis Kimetto hasn’t finished a marathon since April 2016, but the world record-holder believes that his injury problems are finally behind him and he is looking forward with optimism to this weekend’s Vienna City Marathon.
The Kenyan ran 2:02:57 in Berlin four years ago to break the world record. Of the six marathons he has started since then, he has finished just two of them: a 2:05:50 run to finish third in London in 2015 and a 2:11:44 ninth-place finish, also in London, in 2016.
“After my first London Marathon in 2015, I was injured again and again for more than two years,” said Kimetto, who first injured his quadriceps muscle, then his groin and then his triceps.
“It was only in January this year that we found out why I got all these injuries,” he added. “The reason was a wrong treatment by the physiotherapist.”
Kimetto has since switched to using a physiotherapist in his hometown of Eldoret who also treats former marathon world record-holder Wilson Kipsang. “Since January I have no more pains and no more injuries,” he said. “I can train properly without any problems.”
With regard to possible time goals, Kimetto remained cautious during the press conference. A couple of weeks ago he indicated that he might go for the course record of 2:05:41 set by Ethiopia’s Getu Feleke back in 2014. But with warm weather conditions likely, he has reassessed his goal.
“If the weather is good then I want to run a good time,” he said. “I think 2:07 to 2:08 would be good.”
Last year’s runner-up Ishmael Bushendich and fellow Kenyan Nicholas Rotich could both produce strong performances on Sunday.
Bushendich has a personal best of 2:08:20, but the 26-year-old clocked 2:08:42 in Vienna last year, despite difficult weather conditions.
“Dennis Kimetto is here, so he is the favourite,” said Bushendich when asked if he intends to go one better than last year. “It is the first time I will compete against him.”
With an official best of 2:20:16, set in Toronto in 2016, Rotich is by no means the fastest in the field. In fact, most of his race appearances to date have been as a pacemaker. But having spent the past few years training alongside Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge and world half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor, Rotich has decided it is time to make a name for himself.
“Training together with them, I made up my mind and decided to concentrate on the marathon instead of running half marathons and doing pacing jobs,” said Rotich, who was among the group of pacemakers for Kipchoge’s sub-two-hour project in Monza last year.
“We have done all the long runs and the speed work together,” added Rotich, who is hoping for a time in the region of 2:07 on Sunday. “Kipchoge is a great example, showing that hard work and discipline brings rewards.”