The main avenue is a superb running track. In my youth I was out and about there nearly every day. In my early twenties I pursued the goal to run a marathon. I trained a lot for this, exclusively in the Prater. Sometimes I joined a marathon group. Maybe two weeks prior to the marathon I ran a half marathon and accomplished it in less than two hours without any problems. I had set my goal for the marathon to under four hours. But sadly, everything turned out completely different. I fell sick and it was impossible for me to run the marathon then. I never again attempted to prepare to run a marathon later in life. I flirted with the idea but nothing ever came of it. Physically I was in very good shape back then and I feel a little wistful not being able to look back on any experience as a marathon runner. From today’s perspective it would need a lot of preparation to get into reasonably good shape. And a time below four hours seems illusory to me.
Completely different with Eliud Kipchoge. The Kenyan set himself the goal to accomplish – in Vienna, in the main avenue of the Prater – an unbelievable marathon mark. He wanted to run the marathon in under two hours! The track was specifically marked for this and also prepared to level out possible uneven surfaces. The conditions for the record attempt should be as perfect as possible. On Oct 12th, 2019, the day had come. Eliud Kipchoge started running at 8:15am. Pacemakers accompanied him by running in the so-called V-style right in front of him. This was supposed to create an aerodynamic effect. The run was broadcast live on TV. Eliud Kipchoge ran and ran and ran, and one, two kilometres away from the finish it became more likely that he would reach his goal. After one hour, fifty-nine minutes and forty seconds he crossed the finish line with a smile on his face. And he was overjoyed and said, “I feel very good. I want to inspire people and show them that no human is limited.”
Everything had to fit so this performance could be achieved. Besides the nearly perfect race track the weather god was benign and Kipchoge had prepared four and half months for his great day. The run does not count as a world record. For that he should have scored this time in an official marathon run in which other runners also participated. He managed this in the Berlin Marathon in 2018 where he ran two hours one minute and thirty-nine seconds. Therefore, almost exactly two minutes longer than in Vienna one year later. Nevertheless, back then 34-year-old Eliud Kipchoge wrote sports history in the Vienna Prater. 2017 he remained twenty-five seconds above the two-hour mark in Monza. The main avenue in the Prater is obviously an ideal turf for extraordinarily fast feet.
© Jürgen Heimlich 2021-11-21