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Gilbert Kirwa and Andrea Mayr win Vienna’s debutants’ race

April 19, 2009

Kenya’s Gilbert Kirwa and Austria’s Andrea Mayr were the winners in the unique debutants only race at the Vienna City Marathon. 23 year-old Kirwa took the race with a fine 2:08:21 in warm weather conditions with temperatures climbing to around 20° Celsius in the sun. Ethiopia’s Dereje Debele Tulu was second in 2:09:08 and Joseph Maregu (Kenya) took third with 2:09:25. With Degefa Abebe Negewo (Ethiopia) running 2:09:52 it was the first time in the history of the Vienna City Marathon that the first four runners clocked sub 2:10 times – and this despite the fact that there were only debutants in the elite fields.


Andrea Mayr wrote Austrian athletics history by becoming only the second national women’s winner of the race and additionally breaking the Austrian marathon record in her debut race. The 29 year-old clocked 2:30:43 to beat Ethiopians Derbe-Godana Gebissa (2:31:31) and Hayato-Zeineba Hasso (2:34:01). Andrea Mayr improved the national record from Eva-Maria Gradwohl (2:30:51 in 2008) by eight seconds.

Including shorter races 29,054 runners from 100 nations had entered the 26th Vienna City Marathon, which is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.


“I am very happy with this debut victory and with my time. The spectators helped me a lot. It was a great race in a great city,” said Gilbert Kirwa. The Kenyan, who is a training partner of world-class marathon runner Jason Mbote (Kenya/2:07:37), had been in the big leading group right from the start. They passed the half marathon mark in 64:17 minutes, which was slightly slower than expected. But the pace was picked up around the 25 k mark and soon after that more and more runners lost contact to the leaders. At 30 k (1:30:40) the final two pacemakers dropped out and a duel between Gilbert Kirwa and Degefa Abebe Negewo developed with Joseph Maregu just a couple of strides behind. But when Kirwa further increased the pace he started opening a decisive gap soon after the 36 k point. “After this debut I hope to run 2:04 one day,” said Gilbert Kirwa, who achieved the third fastest performance ever in the Vienna City Marathon and earned 20.000 Euros for this.

The most prominent debutant in the field had not a good day: The Olympic Steeple Chase Champion from 2000 in Sydney, Reuben Kosgei (Kenya), dropped out of the race. Another former steeplechaser, Günther Weidlinger, ran an encouraging debut in Vienna. But in the end he was unlucky, because he missed the Austrian record by just 17 seconds. Weidlinger finished ninth with 2:12:39. “I was well in time for the record for a long time, but the final two kilometres really killed me. I could not run any more. To finish ninth is okay for me, but I am disappointed to have missed the record,” said Günther Weidlinger.


The women’s race was surprisingly dominated by Andrea Mayr throughout. Tiruwork Mekonnen (Ethiopia) had asked for a 2:25 pace, but early in the race she decided to go for a more careful approach and ran a couple of metres behind the Austrian. The two time winner of the World Mountain Running Trophy soon started building a big lead. When Andrea Mayr reached the half way point in 1:14:47 she was already more than a minute ahead of the Ethiopian trio with Gebissa, Hasso and Mekonnen. At 30 k the crowd favourite Mayr had increased her lead to more than 90 seconds. Having started the race despite a foot injury the Austrian had a difficult section between 36 and 40 km. “When I looked at my watch with three kilometres to go I thought I would not be able to break the national record. I felt a bit sad, but said to myself you are still in the lead and can win the race. When I checked my watch again at 42 k I saw that I had 50 seconds left – so I gave everything I had left and said to myself: you have to get the record,” Andrea Mayr said after finishing with 2:30:43. “It was an unbelievable race for me,” she added. Mayr, who became the first Austrian woman to win the Vienna City Marathon since Carina Lilge-Leutner back in 1987, received the winner’s prize money of 15,000 Euros.


Results, Men:

1. Gilbert Kirwa                     KEN    2:08:21

2. Dereje Debele Tulu         ETH    2:09:08

3. Joseph Maregu                KEN    2:09:25

4. Degefa Abebe Negewo  ETH    2:09:52

5. Mohamed El-Hachimi     MAR   2:10:24

6. Jafred Chirchir                  KEN    2:10:42

7. Getu Fekele                      ETH    2:11:42

8. Pedro Nimo Del-Oro       ESP    2:12:10

9. Günther Weidlinger          AUT    2:12:39

10. Maswai Kiptanui            KEN    2:13:25



1. Andrea Mayr                     AUT    2:30:43

2. Derbe-Godana Gebissa ETH    2:31:31

3. Hayato-Zeineba Hasso   ETH    2:34:01

4. Tiruwork Mekonnen         ETH    2:34:07

5. Olga Kalenarova-Ochal   UKR    2:35:25

6. Esther Muthuku                KEN    2.39:22




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