World-class duo from Eritrea chase VCM course record

Nazret Weldu and Dolshi Tesfu lead the elite women's field at the Vienna City Marathon with best times of 2:20 hours.

The women's race of the Vienna City Marathon has all the ingredients to become an exciting running highlight.

Speed chase Eritrea vs. Kenya

Fans and spectators can look forward to a special speed chase. The biggest favourites to win the marathon on 21 April are Nazret Weldu with a best time of 2:20:29 and Dolshi Tesfu, whose top mark is only eleven seconds slower. Both athletes come from Eritrea and finished in the top 10 at the recent World Championships. Thanks to their class, they have a real chance of improving the course record of 2:20:59. Vibian Chepkirui ran this time at the 2022 VCM.

Two strong Kenyans Shyline Toroitich (2:22:45) and Rebecca Tanui (2:23:09) want to prevent the first victory for Eritrea at the VCM. Toroitich is the current winner of the Enschede Marathon. Tanui won in San Sebastian 2022 and Venice 2023. She already knows the Vienna City Marathon from last year, when she finished fourth - this time she wants to finish further ahead.

Nazret Weldu: World-class athlete looking for an Olympic ticket

The duo from Eritrea are probably the most high-calibre marathon leaders in the history of the VCM. The 34-year-old Weldu achieved her best time of 2:20:29, which was also a national record, as fourth at the World Championships in Eugene 2022. She was just eleven seconds off bronze. In the same year, she won the Daegu Marathon in 2:21:56. Her sixth place in 2:23:25 at the Boston Marathon 2023 was also a top result, as was her eighth place in 2:27:23 at the World Championships in Budapest last August in very high temperatures.

Curiously, Weldu has not yet qualified for the Paris Olympics. The results from the Boston Marathon are generally not recognised by World Athletics as a limit performance because the difference in altitude from the start to the finish is too great, although the course is considered to be very difficult and challenging to run. In the heat of the World Championships in Budapest, she was 33 seconds over the direct limit of 2:26:50. Weldu achieved her other world-class performances before the start of the qualification period. She now wants to secure her Olympic ticket at the VCM. She will certainly not be satisfied with the minimum requirement.

Dolshi Tesfu: Olympic dress rehearsal in Vienna

Her compatriot Dolshi Tesfu, 24 and therefore ten years younger than Weldu, is an athlete who is at least as strong. Her best time of 2:20:40 comes from Valencia 2022, where she finished ninth. She covered the first half of this race in 68:53 minutes, which underlines her great potential. In 2023, she achieved a top result as runner-up in the Rotterdam Marathon in 2:21:35. At the World Championships in Budapest, she finished tenth in 2:28:54 - two places behind Weldu. Tesfu took part in the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games in the 10,000 m and finished 15th. She has already qualified for the marathon in Paris and wants to put on a good dress rehearsal in Vienna.

Masters world record holder with fourth VCM start

With Helalia Johannes from Namibia, an even faster athlete will be competing in Vienna. The runner from Namibia set her best time of 2:19:52 in Valencia in 2020, but at the age of over 43 she can no longer be expected to perform at this level. However, the Masters world record holder in the W40 is still running well. She already ran at the VCM in 2012, 2016 and 2017. Her best result was third place in 2:27:20 at her first appearance in 2012.

Olympic hopes from Central and South America

Several runners are hoping to challenge the Olympic limit at the VCM. These include Andrea Ramirez Limon from Mexico. Her best time of 2:26:34 dates back to 2020 - but she needs a current time in this range. Her compatriot Daniela Torres (2:28:54 in Siena 2021) and Marcela Gomes from Argentina (2:28:58 in Seville 2020) also want to get on the "Road to Paris" with a good race in Vienna.

Opportunities for rookies

The VCM once again offers less experienced athletes the chance to compete in a major international race. The OPEC Fund Rookie Team will include Faith Chepkoech from Kenya, who will be taking part in a competition outside of Africa for the first time.

Julia Mayer on VCM and Olympic course

Austria's record holder Julia Mayer has more experience. She has already qualified for the 2023 Olympics thanks to her improvement to 2:26:43 in Valencia. She can run freely at the Vienna City Marathon. Her form is good, as she proved on Sunday at the Vienna Calling Half Marathon. She completed the 21.1 kilometres in 1:14:54 hours in strong winds as part of the training process, having already completed a "run-up" of 10 kilometres before the start.

Preparations are also in full swing for recreational athletes. A total of over 40,000 registrations are expected. Registration for the VCM marathon, Wiener Städtische half marathon and Powerade relay marathon has already closed. Registration is still open for the events taking place on Saturday 20 April: Vienna 5K, the children's races The Daily Mile 800 & 1600 and the Coca-Cola Inclusion Run.

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