Kenya’s Vibian Chepkirui won the 38th edition of the Vienna City Marathon which delivered a great comeback for major international city marathon running during the pandemic.
Vibian was the top story of the day written in Austria’s capital as it was her debut marathon which she also in 2:24.29.
The 27 year-old Kenyan was clearly not among the hot favorites when she arrived in Vienna. She had never run a marathon before and in the past twelve months Chepkirui was only able to compete in a single international race due to the corona pandemic. It was a 10,000 m track event in Stockholm, where she finished eighth with a personal best of 31:09.42.
It was a tough time because of Corona. I tried to qualify for the Olympics in Stockholm, but I did not manage. After that I decided to concentrate on a marathon, “said Chepkirui, whose half marathon personal best of 69:09 did not indicate either that something spectacular might be on the cards for her in Vienna.
Vibian had to cope with a major obstacle on her way to Vienna. She was in that group that also included Vienna’s men’s marathon winner Leonard Langat who were flying via Doha from Nairobi and missed their connecting flight. The plane from Kenya had been delayed. They were stuck in Doha and the airline did not care. So they had to sleep on the floor,” explained Chepkirui’s Coach Julien di Maria. “Obviously this is not ideal two days before a marathon.”
Despite all this Chepkirui ran a brilliant marathon debut and dominated a strong field. At 30K mark she was well in the lead and her split time of 1:40.37 pointed towards a 2:21.30 finish, well inside the course record of 2:22:12. “I was surprised to win the race, but I started to believe by the half way mark. Of course this is the biggest win in my career,” Chepkirui said, whose husband Wesley Kangogo was her pacemaker. “The heat was a problem though. In cooler conditions I could have run at least two minutes faster. Additionally I got problems with a calf muscle with around four kilometres to go.”
Chekirui who is under Ikaika Management, trains in Iten and this was her first International race in 2020 where she has a personal in half marathon that she got in Prague.
Nancy Kiprop is the three-time winner of the Vienna City Marathon and she is also the race course record holder of 2:22.12. “I had planned to go after Kiprop’s record but due to the weather patterns I wasn’t able to.”
Vibian Chepkirui is hoping that both of them will be on the start line at the next Vienna City Marathon on 24 April 2022. One thing is sure: They will avoid flying to Vienna via Doha.