Defending champion Nancy Kiprop returns to the Vienna City Marathon on April 7. She will be targeting a hat-trick at Austria’s biggest and most spectacular road running event. The Kenyan could become the first woman in the history of the traditional event to achieve three victories. One of her main challengers will be Ethiopia’s Rahma Tusa, the 2018 winner of the Rome Marathon. Adding other running events a total of more than 40,000 participants are expected for the 36th annual event, which is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race. It is one of few major European spring marathons where entries are still possible at: www.vienna-marathon.com
More than 30 years ago, when African elite marathon runners played no significant role yet, there was an Austrian who managed to achieve a hat-trick in Vienna: Gerhard Hartmann took the race three times in a row, from 1985 to 1987. More recently Kenya’s Henry Sugut became a three-time champion with victories in 2010, 2012 and 2013. While no woman has achieved this feat Nancy Kiprop is in a position to do so when she returns. Two years ago, she won in Vienna with a personal best of 2:24:20 after a very close finish. Kiprop was just five seconds ahead of fellow-Kenyan Rebecca Chesire. A year later she had a huge advantage of more than five minutes when she clocked a PB of 2:24:18 despite very warm weather conditions. In the meantime, the 39-year-old Kiprop improved this time to 2:22:46 in Frankfurt last October.
“For me, it is an easy decision to return to Vienna, as the race is well organised, people are welcoming and I feel appreciated and respected. I am truly humbled by each experience in Vienna,“ said Nancy Kiprop, who has seven children and founded a school in her home village Chesitek near to Iten. Her success in Vienna was instrumental regarding her school project. “My real success has come with the two victories in the Vienna City Marathon. And this event, together with adidas Running, has made the impossible possible: My school, the Nancy Cletius Academy in Chesitek, is now educating 122 pupils and providing employment to five teachers. We have a total of five classrooms and administrative buildings with two staff. Our plans are to continue to grow. We want to add one new class each year and keep on investing in education for the next generation,“ explained Kiprop. Further success at the Vienna City Marathon would benefit her school project. “Defending my title is what I hope to achieve.“
Kiprop’s strongest rival may well be Rahma Tusa. The 25-year-old Ethiopian has already achieved a hat-trick when she won the Rome Marathon for the third time in a row in 2018. Last year she improved her personal best to 2:23:46 in the Italian capital. Tusa also showed a fine performance in the New York City Marathon last November, finishing fifth with 2:27:13. Now she will run the Vienna City Marathon for the first time.
Besides Kiprop there is another former Vienna City Marathon Champion returning to the race: Switzerland’s national record holder Maja Neuenschwander hopes for a successful return to the marathon after a stress fracture ruined her season last year. The 39-year-old was a surprise winner in Vienna in 2015 with a 2:30:09 and then clocked the Swiss record of 2:26:49 in Berlin later that year. In Rio’s Olympic Marathon in 2016, she achieved a fine 29th place. However, since then Maja Neuenschwander has not finished a marathon.