At 0900 the racers were released and 29.054 athletes got on their way to tackle the whole distance of 42,195km, the half marathon or the marathon distance in a 4-squad-relay race. Crossing the Reichsbruecke near the UNO-City provides the VCM with similarly spectacular pictures as the New York City Marathon, when the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is being crossed. The route then leads into the Prater, passing our home towards the first district and via the ring-road and the Staatsoper onto the Wienzeile heading west towards Schoenbrunn. This part of the route, between km 12 and 16 is one of the most horrible ones for marathon and half-marathon runners as it is slightly uphill, and fully exposed to the sunshine. Having reached Schloss Schoenbrunn the route leads via the Technische Museum and the Mariahilfer Strasse again to the ring road – half-marathon-runners have reached their finish here – and then towards Friedensbruecke and via Obere Donaustrasse and Schuettelstrasse towards the Ernst Happel Stadion in the Prater and the Lusthaus – running down the alley after 34km is real pain!! The last kilometres are similar to the ones early in the race – up the ring road, passing the Opera and turning right onto Heldenplatz, where thousands of spectators were cheering enthusiastically.
Even though the marathon-racers passed our home 3x we decided to watch and cheer them in the inner city and positioned our self by the Opera, motivating the broad mass tackling half and full distance as well as the elite. While the men’s winner stayed with 2:08:21 almost 1 minute behind the VCM course record of 2.07:35 at year’s 25th edition, it all looked very good for a new Austrian national record by Guenter Weidlinger. The split times gave him up to 20 seconds advantage to the record of 2:12:22 set by Gerhard Hartmann back in 1986(!!), but the on the last 2000 metres the batteries went flat and he lost a lot of essential time and with 2:12:39 he missed the record by mere 17 seconds. The crowd in front of the opera went dead-quiet when realising that the record is missed. That was a spooky moment! But 15 minutes later a storm of enthusiasm came up when Andrea Mayr showed up, looking like falling over any second due to her extremely strange running style. It seemed very unlikely for her to set a new record as she had to run the last km in 3.00 minutes – see the video of these moments that Markus shot. Supported by her pacemakers and the frenetic cheering by the whole crowed she did the unexpected, reached the finishing line in 2:30:43: and thus beat Eva-Maria Gradwohl's national record of 2:30:51. On top of that the marathon-rookie, working fulltime as a doctor, won the women’s race.
Unbelieveable achievement! The half-marathon on crutches in 3:39:15. RESPECT!The great atmosphere of 350.000 spectators all over Vienna and amazing achievements of elite and hobby-runners motivated Markus to pick up proper running practice again. As he is signed up already for the half-marathon at the Drei Laender Marathon on October 4th, it is about time anyway to get back into shape. But also, after a break of two years not participating in the VCM, the motivation is there to re-join the race in 2010!
Kerstin & Markus