Fabienne Schlumpf and Tadesse Abraham, the two Swiss record holders, will be running in the same marathon for the first time at the Vienna City Marathon that will be held on Sunday (12) in Vienna, Austria.
“I am hoping for a double triumph for Switzerland,” says Tadesse Abraham. However they will have to overcome African excellence to achieve what would be a very memorable double victory. Ethiopian Gelete Burka head the start lists
“I am happy to be back for the Vienna City Marathon,“ said Tadesse Abraham, who was runner-up here in 2019 when he clocked his second fastest time with 2:07.24. He ran his Swiss record of 2:06:40 in Seoul in 2016. Later that year he finished in a strong seventh position at the Olympics in Rio. Five years on he did not finish in the Olympic marathon in Sapporo, Japan. “Unfortunately it did not work for me at the Olympics this time. But there are always ups and downs in sport,“ said the 39 year-old.
“After Sapporo it was not so difficult to recover physically since I had not finished the race. It was more difficult mentally. But I have a lot of experience which is helpful and it was good to then quickly refocus on the Vienna City Marathon,“ said Tadesse Abraham, who is the second fastest runner on the elite start list of Austria’s major running event.
The two Swiss will have uphill task as they will face Kenya’s trio that include Risper Chebet who carries a personal best of 2:23.45, Rebecca Kangogo of 2:24.25 and Celestine Chepchirchir of2:24.48 all feature personal bests of sub 2:25.
It will be interesting to see what Fabienne Schlumpf is capable of achieving in such a field and just a very short time after finishing in a strong 12th position at the Olympics. “Sapporo was a dream result for me,“ said Fabienne Schlumpf, who had only run her marathon debut in April in Bern where she clocked her Swiss record time of 2:26.14. As she explained it was planned long-term to do the “Olympic Vienna Double“. “After the race in Sapporo I was very tired. It was not easy to find the right balance between recovery and restarting training. I started with some cycling and swimming. But then I even managed to include some high altitude training in St. Moritz,“ said Fabienne Schlumpf.
“Vienna will be my first city marathon with spectators and I am really looking forward to it and hope that the support of the spectators will push me,“ said the former steeplechaser. “This time I want to run a bit faster right from the start, compared to my other two marathons. It would be great if I could get a PB on Sunday.“ Elite runners with personal bests
Ethiopia’s Betesfa Getahun comes to Vienna with a personal record of 2:05:28. The 22 year-old ran this time in his marathon debut in Amsterdam in 2019 when he finished in fourth place. Kento Kikutani of Japan (PB: 2:07:26) plus Kenyan’s Bethwell Rutto (2:07:41) and Edwin Kosgei (2:07:51) are the other athletes who feature personal bests of sub 2:08 in Vienna. The men’s leading group will probably run a sub 2:06 pace. The course record of Ethiopia’s Getu Feleke, who clocked 2:05:41 here in 2014, might then be targeted.
With a personal record of 2:20:45 Gelete Burka is the fastest woman ever on a start list of the Vienna City Marathon which will see its 38th edition on Sunday. Running her personal best in 2018 in Dubai that performance was the break through for the former World Cross Country and 1,500 m Indoor World Championships gold medal winner. Gelete Burka then took the marathons in Ottawa and Paris in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Gelete Burka admits that it was a very difficult period for the Ethiopian elite runners because of the corona pandemic. “They continued training, but otherwise they stayed home as there were no races,“ the 35 year-old said. Gelete Burka herself did not run a marathon since placing third in Chicago two years ago with 2:20:55. „Therefore it is difficult to say what will be possible for me on Sunday. But I think I am well prepared and hope for success.“
Dina Asher-Smith’s scintillating sprint speed and beaming smile lit up the championships. The 22-year-old was untouchable in Berlin with world-leading marks and British records at 100m and 200m before anchoring the GB 4x100m team to gold on the final night to seal a hat-trick of titles.
Asher-Smith is a joy to watch and at the height of her powers. Or is she? For perhaps Doha 2019 and Tokyo 2020 will see her deliver even greater results.
If winning the 1500m aged 17 wasn’t amazing enough, Jakob Ingebrigtsen completed a phenomenal double by taking 5000m gold in emphatic style 24 hours later.
He’s not even old enough to drive a car or buy a beer in his native Norway but in Berlin he breezed away from his rivals in both races and even had the confidence to high-five his brother, Henrik, part-way through the 5000m.
Prodigious pole vaulting
This was a championships where two youngsters redefined what is possible as a teenager in athletics. After Ingebrigtsen’s double gold, Armand Duplantis, who is 10 months older than the Norwegian and a mere 18 years old, first cleared a world under-20 record of 6.00m and then sailed over 6.05m to stun a German crowd that notably appreciated track and field events in equal measure.
Celebrating in style
Nothing helps boost the atmosphere at an athletics event more than host nation success. So when German javelin throwers Thomas Rohler and Andreas Hofmann finished one-two in the men’s javelin, the crowd was guaranteed to go crazy.
Rohler celebrated by leaping into the steeplechase water before delivering one of the quotes of the championships. “We have so many strong throwers because we share knowledge,” he said, “we put our heads together, the secret is not to have secrets.”
Berlin is famed for its super-fast marathon in September, but the European Championship women’s race last weekend was full of drama when winner Volha Mazuronak first suffered a gory, mid-race nose bleed before later almost veering off in the wrong direction when going toe to toe with Clémence Calvin in the closing stages.
Clash of the titans
The head-to-head of the championships, for me, came in the heptathlon. Many felt Nafi Thiam, the Olympic and world champion, would be a class apart, but it was closer than most imagined as Katarina Johnson-Thompson put up a terrific fight.
Even when needing a seemingly impossible 14-second victory over the Belgian in the climactic 800m, Johnson-Thompson ran with bold, front-running tactics as she sent out a strong message ahead of the IAAF World Championships in Doha next year.
Long jump battle
Malaika Mihambo delighted her home crowd by taking women’s long jump gold but the event featured a tremendous scrap for medals with Maryna Bekh of Ukraine and Shara Proctor and Jazmin Sawyers of Britain producing their biggest marks in a dramatic final round.
Sawyers was the unlucky athlete to miss out on a podium place but won a gold medal for sportsmanship by going up to Bekh to congratulate her only seconds after the Ukrainian had nudged her out of a medal position.
Thrills and spills
There was another good-natured moment in the women’s 800m rounds when Renee Eykens of Belgium fell dramatically in the closing stages of her race only to be consoled and helped up by the winner, Nataliya Pryshchepa. The Ukrainian was rewarded for her sportsmanship, too, as she went on to win gold in the final.
Hudson-Smith’s superb semi-final
British 400m runner Matt Hudson-Smith was an emphatic winner in the one-lap final but rich potential was probably more evident in the semi-finals when he looked phenomenally easy coasting home in 44.76. If he maintains this form, surely it’s only a matter of time before he breaks Thomas Schonlebe’s European record of 44.33 and Iwan Thomas’s UK best of 44.36.
Berlin erupts at steeplechase victory
When Gesa Krause accelerated into the final water jump in the 3000m ’chase in the final session on Sunday, her home crowd went crazy. The 26-year-old produced a brilliant climax to the championships for the hosts as she stormed past Fabienne Schlumpf of Switzerland to take the title. Germany enjoyed a great week, too, with six golds and 17 medals but Krause was the nation’s only track winner.
Five areas for improvement
It was a brilliant championship but not perfect and here are some parts that could have been improved.
» Some of the timetabling was bizarre, such as scheduling the women’s 400m final on the same evening as the women’s 4x400m final.
» Making some athletes compete in an extra round was unfair and, at times, pointless. The qualifying round of the men’s 110m hurdles, for example, saw just three out of sixteen athletes eliminated.
» The European Championships is a superb event when it does not have to compete with the Olympic Games. But it lost its lustre in 2016 and the same will happen in 2020 when the main goal for athletes will be Tokyo. In a crowded calendar, once every four years is surely best.
» It looks faintly ridiculous to see the “I run clean” anti-doping logo on the chest of throwers, jumpers and especially race walkers. Is it really too hard to put “I jump/throw/walk clean” on the bib numbers instead?
» The creators of ‘Dynamic New Athletics’ probably thought they’d picked a great moment to launch their idea by announcing it during the European Championships but many were left non-plussed by the concept (which includes an assault course-style race with sled and parachute pulling) especially when the (traditional) track and field in Berlin was so entertaining anyway.