VIENNA — Haile Gebrselassie made a winning return from injury by capturing a half marathon Sunday during the Vienna City Marathon.
The Ethiopian great, who turns 38 on Monday, covered the 13.1 miles in 1 hour, 18 seconds.
The 22-year-old John Kiprotich of Kenya won the marathon, finishing the 26.2 miles in 2:08:29 to become the youngest winner in the 28-year history of the event. Fate Tola of Ethiopia took the women’s race in a personal best 2:26.21.
Gebrselassie said he was “very happy” with his performance at his first European appearance since briefly retiring after pulling out of the New York City Marathon in November.
“I was thinking I could do it in under one hour. But it’s OK, it’s a remarkable time as I ran alone,” he said.
“My time is okay,” said Gebrselassie, whose performance was an Austria all-comers record. “It is not so easy to break one hour if you are running alone and without pacemakers.”
More than 300,000 spectators lined the streets, many who had come to witness the great Ethiopian running through their Austrian capital. Fitting to the occasion organisers had put down a red carpet on the final 100 metres of the race, which finished at the Wiener Hofburg.
Ethiopian Fate Tola won in the women’s race where Tola, 23, took the victory for Ethiopia after she drew away from Portugal’s Ana Dulce Felix in the closing stages of a thrilling race. Tola clocked a personal best of 2:26:21 while Felix was nine seconds back in 2:26:30. Kenyan Peninah Arusei, who had long been in the lead, was third with 2:27:17. For the first time in the history of the race five women ran under 2:30. Genet Getaneh (Ethiopia/2:28:08) was fourth and Elza Kireyeva (Russia/2:29:41) finished fifth.