Initially I was running the Vienna marathon in its 2020 edition, but like so many others it was cancelled when Covid-19 broke out. At that time, it was going to be part of a holiday in Vienna and Bratislava, which did not happen.
Later, they gave the option of transferring the registration to September 2021, or April 2022, which is the option I opted for. And even this year they gave the option to delay the registration for 2023, although I missed the date to do so.
Thus, with the date set, I bought the flights, with just time enough to run the marathon and little else. And at the last minute I almost couldn’t go, between the medical problem of a family member and a positive for Covid at work. Finally, knowing I was virus-free, I could travel.
Arriving in Vienna at noon, I stopped by the accommodation to drop off my backpack and head to the runners´ expo, in a large pavilion with many stands that reminded me of what these pre-pandemic events were like. I quickly pick up the bag, with the bib-number and little else, because in some of these marathons, which are very expensive, the shirt must be paid separately (€30).
Already free I am headed towards the city centre. The less time available, the more you must take advantage of it. With my return flight early on Monday morning, I will have tomorrow afternoon available too. I visit the Cathedral and surrounding areas, and I retire early to rest.
In the morning I leave early to take the metro to the departure area. The marathon, half marathon and marathon relay are run together. My starting box is number 2, and I enter it in advance, while it fills up with runners. The starts are staggered, with the elite runners at 8.57, and the other boxes every 5 minutes starting at 9.00.
With punctuality, a great atmosphere, and good temperature, we cross the Reichsbrücke Bridge to over the Danube. A start like the Lisbon half marathon over the 25th of April Bridge. Later we take for the first time the tree-lined avenues where Eliud Kipchoge first came down from the 2-hour marathon in his Ineos project in 2020.
The marathon course is completely urban. During the first 20 kilometres, marathon and half marathon share course. Then the marathon separates while going for its second lap, largely different from the first one. I cross the half marathon in 1.55.07.
Without pacers to keep the pace, due to the staggered starts, and with the runners of the relay running along us, the race becomes even more personal than on other days. Knowing my second parts, I will have to regulate well to get to the finish line under 4 hours. Getting to 30k at 2.46.39 I still have chance.
Once again on the long tree-lined straights of the Kipchoge route, the kilometres go by slowly before heading to the centre of the city again. There, we run the last 4 kilometres, with numerous people supporting us. Still, each curve shows us another long street ahead.
I conclude on 3.59.19. A sub-4 for my 110 marathon, which adds Austria as country 12 in my marathon journey.
I head to the lodging, medal in hand. There is still much to see, and little time. I had almost forgotten the sensation of feeling everything new in a strange country.
We will look forward for other experiences.
SCORE: 4.5 / 5
Pros: flat and urban route; runners´ expo.
Cons: Runner’s bag could have been more generous or include the t-shirt.