VIENNA, Austria, Apr 23- Nancy Kiprop successfully defended her Vienna City Marathon title, setting a personal best time of 2:24:18 at the IAAF Gold Label road race on Sunday.
With temperatures well above 20C, Kiprop was on schedule to break the 18-year-old course record of 2:23:47 up until 35 kilometres. Her pace dropped in the closing stages, but she was still rewarded with a two-second PB and a five-minute winning margin.
Morocco’s Salaheddine Bounasser surprisingly won the men’s title in a PB of 2:09:29 in a race where world record-holder Dennis Kimetto dropped out just after half way.
The course record looked likely for most of the women’s race as the lead pack passed through 10 kilometres in 33:54 and 15 kilometres in 50:40.
Ethiopia’s Helen Tola, who had the fastest PB of the field, soon dropped out of the lead quartet and trailed Kiprop, Celestine Chepchirchir and Fatuma Sado by 33 seconds at half way.
The deficit grew by more than a minute within the space of a few kilometres and Tola dropped out before 30 kilometres.
By that point – reached in 1:41:29, which pointed to a finishing time of 2:22:45 – Kiprop and Chepchirchir were alone in front. Then Chepchirchir faltered and Kiprop, running all on her own, could not keep up the pace but did enough to win in 2:24:18.
“I am happy to have won again in Vienna,” said the 38-year-old, whose winning mark is the second-fastest time ever in the history of the Vienna City Marathon. “Unfortunately it was too hot to break the course record.”
Ethiopia’s fast-finishing Melesech Tsegaye overtook Chepchirchir during the final kilometre to take second place in 2:29:51 to Chepchirchir’s 2:30:39.
Seven runners formed the first group in the men’s race, running behind three pacemakers. The pack tried to maintain the scheduled pace as long as possible. The goal had been a time between 2:07 and 2:08, but with the temperatures rising to well above 20C, the pace slowed.
A 10-kilometre split of 30:25 was followed by a half marathon time of 1:04:39. The fastest man on the start list, Dennis Kimetto, had already been running at the back of the group from about 15 kilometres onwards, but he was right in the middle of it a little later.
However, the world record-holder – who has finished only two marathons since setting the world record of 2:02:57 in Berlin in 2014 – lost contact at about 22 kilometres. A big gap soon opened and Kimetto was limping. A muscle problem in his left calf forced him to stop before 25 kilometres.
Noah Kigen, the last pacemaker, dropped back after leading the field to 30 kilometres in 1:31:50, but he continued in the race and eventually finished fifth. With Kigen relieved of his duties, Ishmael Bushendich took the initiative and he left behind all but one rival.
Bounasser followed the Kenyan before storming away with two miles to go. “I got stitches, so I could not respond,” said Bushendich.
Entered with a PB of 2:10:04, 27-year-old Bounasser hadn’t been regarded as one of the big favourites, but he ran well in the heat and improved his lifetime best by 35 seconds, winning in 2:09:29.
“I thought I had a chance to get into the top three, but not to win,” said the Moroccan.
As was the case last year, Bushendich finished second in 2:10:03 with Samwel Maswai taking third place in 2:11:08
Nicholas Rotich, a training partner of Eliud Kipchoge and often used as a pacemaker but competing here as an athlete in his own right, finished fourth in 2:12:00.
1 Salaheddine Bounasser (MAR) 2:09:29
2 Ishmael Bushendich (KEN) 2:10:03
3 Samwel Maswai (KEN) 2:11:08
4 Nicholas Rotich (KEN) 2:12:00
5 Noah Kigen (KEN) 2:12:03
1 Nancy Kiprop (KEN) 2:24:18
2 Melesech Tsegaye (ETH) 2:29:51
3 Celestine Chepchirchir (KEN) 2:30:39
4 Fatuma Sado (ETH) 2:32:18
5 Askale Alemaheyu (ETH) 2:32:47