Vienna City Marathon (VCM) 2022 – tidbits

24 Apr

As I look over my notes, scribbled while watching the marathon on TV, I’m not quite sure to begin. Perhaps at the beginning. 😉 I missed it, sadly, but the event was opened with speech from Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen, who emphasized the themes of this year’s marathon: joy, togetherness, and peace. (He was also reponsible for the starting signal, which worked, thank goodness, even though the bell fell off the can. [Sorry if that is not the correct terminology. I hope you can picture it nonetheless.]) The themes were highlighted by some of ORF footage, including an enormous “Stop War” banner on Stephansdom and a “Stand with Ukraine” banner on the Burgtheater, where the race ends.

As always, the commentary focused mainly on the first man, the first woman, the first Austrian man or, in this case, men, and the first Austrian woman. And as usual there was a lot to say what with giving running histories and personal interest stories — that the winner of the men’s race, Cosmas Matolo Muteti, placed 5th in Berlin in September 2021, that Vibian Chepkirui, winner of the women’s race, was defending her title, that one of the top Austrian men, Timon Theuer, has had a run of bad luck, which continued in this race as he fell and injured his hip at eight-kilometer mark and gave up finally because of the pain at about the 32-kilometer mark, that his pacemaker had planned to bow out at about the 30-kilometer mark but felt great so just kept going and crossed the finish line in 19th place. In fact, Muteti also commented that he could feel it was a really good day for him and so sped up to pass the leader, Oqbe Kibrom of Eritrea, who ended up coming in third, and so managed to cross the finish line first and with great panache.

As usual, I went down to watch the top runners go by at the stretch near me and was sad to realize I had missed the top men runners. (Boy, they must have been fast this year!) I made it just in time to see the leading Austrian man, Lemawork Ketema, go by and then Chepkirui, who was at that point still clearly in the lead of the women’s race. I waited about 15 minutes to see if the first Austrian woman would go by, but there was no sign of anyone. It turned out there was no top runner and, in fact, there was some question at the end as to who the fastest Austrian woman was. It turned out to be Anna Holzmann with a net time of 3:03:59, about a minute and a half faster than Carola Bendl-Tschiedl, the first Austrian woman to actually cross the finish line. (The start, as you can imagine with over 30,000 runners, is staggered.)

The men’s race was close at the end and exciting. The women’s race had me shouting at the TV it was so thrilling. Chepkirui was in the lead but Ruth Chebitok was catching up so fast and running so well that it really wasn’t clear if Chepkirui would find enough left inside herself to stay in the lead. She did, however, and, perhaps because of the pressure from Chebitok, broke the course record (Nancy Kiprop’s record) with a time of 2:20:59. Chebitok came in four seconds behind her. It galled me that although there were interviews with three of the men (the winner, the first Austrian, and the pacemaker who completed the race) there were none with the women, in spite of that spectacular run. Of course, there could be other reasons than unconscious bias for that omission — Chepkirui was clearly exhausted at the end or perhaps she doesn’t speak English and they didn’t want to spring for an interpreter — and then again it could be unconscious bias. ORF take note!

In any case, it was a Kenyan day. Out of the six top runners, the three men and the three women, five were Kenyan. And the Kenyan fan base went wild (see photo of my TV). I also thought it was lovely that in the photo session after the award ceremony Muteti, who had done his victory lap wrapped in a Kenyan flag, shared that flag with Chepkirui (other photo, from the ORF website).

For more info:

https://wien.orf.at/stories/3153155/

https://www.vienna-marathon.com/

And I have put the 2023 VCM into my calendar already — April 23rd!

2 Responses to “Vienna City Marathon (VCM) 2022 – tidbits”

  1. esauboeck April 24, 2022 at 6:20 pm #

    Nice summary! Are you yourself a runner?

    • ecbinvienna April 24, 2022 at 9:07 pm #

      Thanks! No, I’m not. I’m a walker. I’m not sure why the Vienna marathon has become part of my annual calendar, but it has become dear to me.

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