Kenyans Limo, Kibet and Biwott chase glory in Vienna

Submitted by ATAF Editor on 7 April 2010 - 4:47pm

Kenya’s Felix Limo will head a strong men’s field that include Luke Kibet, Paul Biwott and eight runners with sub 2:10 run at the 27th Vienna City Marathon on  April 18.

The 29 years-old Limo, with a personal best of 2:06:14, intends to show that he still belongs to the best marathon runners worldwide.

His strongest rivals will be his fellow-countrymen Luke Kibet, the World Champion from 2007, and Paul Biwott, who boosts a personal best of 2:07:02.

While the course record of 2:07:38 – established by the current World Champion Abel Kirui (Kenya) in 2008 – may well be under threat a different record has already been broken: Organisers have registered close to 31,000 entries for Austria’s number one running event.

This includes races at shorter distances which will be held together with the marathon. Despite the tough winter there has never been a bigger field in the history of the Vienna City Marathon.

Although Luke Kibet and Austria’s national record holder Günther Weidlinger (2:10:47) had been announced to run Vienna earlier, the addition of half a dozen strong Kenyans in the past weeks has added more quality to the field, with Felix Limo been the most prominent.

Only a few years ago the Kenyan was one of the dominant figures in marathon running. He took the events in London (2006), Berlin (2004), Chicago (2005) and Rotterdam (2004).

Limo clocked sub 2:07 results three times: In Rotterdam 2004 (2:06:14), in Berlin 2004 (2:06:44) and in Amsterdam 2003, when he finished second in his marathon debut race with 2:06:42. He holds the current 15k world record with 41:29.

The Kenyan is one of few athletes who can claim to never have lost against world record holder Haile Gebrselassie in the marathon. In the two times the two marathon greats have met so far at this distance – and on both occasions Limo was ahead of the Ethiopian legend in London.

Due to back problems Felix Limo was not at his best in 2009, but he is confident that he will run strong again in Vienna at the end of next week. Limo agreed he would have to be in peak form in order to take the Vienna City Marathon since he faces tough opposition.

Whilst Luke Kibet – winner in Vienna in 2007 before taking the world championship gold – has not yet reached his full potential regarding a fast time (PB: 2:08:52) there is one runner in the field who came very close to a sub 2:07 - Paul Biwott, who improved to 2:07:02 last year, when he was third in Amsterdam. He also knows the course in Vienna from his third place finish in 2008 (2:08.53).

Wilson Kigen (Kenya/2:08:16 when second in Frankfurt in 2008), Joseph Maregu (Kenya/third in Vienna in 2009 with 2:09:25), Mesfin Ademasu (Ethiopia/seventh in Rotterdam 2009 in 2:09:32), Leonard Mucheru (Kenya/second in Tiberias in 2009 with 2:09:37) and Jonathan Yego (Kenya/winner of the Rome Marathon in 2008 with 2:09:57) complete the group of Africans starting in Vienna with personal bests of sub 2:10.

The 2010 Vienna City Marathon can be watched live worldwide on the internet. The live stream will be available on on race day. Three hours of coverage will be provided by Austrian national TV station ORF and will begin at 8.40 am.

Late entry for the marathon race will still be possible, but online registration will close on Friday April 9.