Kenyan athletes led by former IAAF World Half Marathon Champion, Paul Kirui have been signed for the 28th edition of the Vienna City Marathon on April 17 to target the 2:07:38 course record and give Haile Gebrselassie quite a run through the Austrian capital.
Ethiopia's superstar will be competing in the half marathon and run a unique chase race. The elite marathon runners will get a head start and it will be Haile's aim to catch them before he finishes his half marathon.
The time difference at the start has yet to be determined. More than 30,000 runners have already entered the various events of the Vienna City Marathon.
With a personal best of 2:06:44, Paul Kirui is one of the fastest runners ever entered into the Vienna City Marathon. The 31 year-old Kenyan had clocked this time back in 2006, when he was second at the Rotterdam Marathon.
But since then Paul Kirui's fastest marathon time in each year was not slower than 2:08:23. Additionally the average time of his 10 fastest marathons shows how consistent the Kenyan is in the marathon: it stands at 2:08:53.3 hours. He will be eager to improve this in Vienna.
Paul Kirui's greatest success so far came in the half marathon, when he took the gold medal at the World Championships in 2004. His biggest marathon win was in Amsterdam, where he clocked 2:07:52 in 2008.
Paul Kirui proved last year, that he still can run very fast in the marathon. In March he was third in Seoul with 2:07:35.
One of his strongest opponents will be Patrick Ivuti. The two-time silver medallist at the World Cross Country Championships (1999 and 2003) had run a very good marathon debut in Chicago, where he was second in 2005 with 2:07:46.
This still remains the personal best of the 32 year-old. But after a setback due to malaria in the winter of 2008 he came very close to this time, when he took the Prague Marathon in 2:07:48 in 2009.
An excellent half marathon runner with four results inside one hour and a personal best of 59:27 minutes Patrick Ivuti will be eager to finally further improve in the marathon. Last year he was unlucky because a series of injuries prevented him from competing.
Isaac Macharia is another experienced marathon runner who will compete in the Vienna City Marathon. Actually his best result so far came in a race with Haile Gebrselassie.
When the Ethiopian took the Dubai Marathon in 2008 with 2:04:53 the Kenyan was second in 2:07:16. The two time Nagano Marathon champion (2005 and 2009) also has a fine half marathon best of 60:48 minutes.
Joseph Ngeny and Wilson Kigen could also play a part when it comes to determining the Vienna City Marathon champion. Ngeny features a personal best of 2:08:10, which he ran when he finished third in Eindhoven in 2009, while Wilson Kigen's PB stands at 2:08:16. With this he was second in Frankfurt in 2008.
If Nicholas Chelimo should be able to improve his personal best of 2:07:38 on April 17 the Vienna City Marathon will definitely see a course record. By coincidence his PR exactly matches the course record of Kenya's reigning World Champion Abel Kirui, who had won the race in Vienna in 2008 and then took the gold at global stage a year later in Berlin.
In the past four years 28 year-old Nicholas Chelimo has clocked sub 2:10 times consistently. 2010 was his best year so far as a marathon runner.
First the Kenyan took the Nagano Marathon in 2:10:24, then he improved his personal best by eight seconds to those 2:07:38 with a second place in Eindhoven and finally he won the Honolulu Marathon in December ( 2:15:18).