Vienna alsways had a special place in my heart. Not only did I run my second Half Marathon there, but I also studied in this beautiful city for 7 years and would call it my second home. So when I was looking for a Marathon to run in May for my 12 Marathons in 12 months project, the Vienna City Marathon was of course on the top of my list. And I can tell you, it did not disappoint.
The Vienna City Marathon is the biggest marathon in Austria, offering a Marathon, a Half Marathon and a Marathon Relay on Sunday as well as a 10k on Saturday. The best thing about the Marathon is the half way quitting point. Because the Half Marathon route is just the first 21km of the regular Marathon route all the Marathon runners can stop after 21km and will be counted as Half Marathon finishers, medal included. This year a lot of participants took that option, as it was extremely hot and difficult to run.
Vienna is well connected by all means of transport. You can get there easily by plane, bus, train or car. The public transport system in Vienna is also extremely good, therefore I would recommend that you take the Ubahn to the startline. It will be crowded, but trains run in 2 minutes intervals on Marathon morning.
Bib pick up and Vienna City Marathon Expo
The Vienna City Marathon Expo is located in the Vienna Exposition Center (Wien Messe). When traveling there you need to exit at the stop “Krieau” and not “Messe”. The expo itself is of decent size with severall stalls where you can buy last minute supplies. Bib pick up was fast and easy. When you are done at the expo head to the City Hall for what is known as the international Kaiserschmarrn Party. It is like a big pre-race carb-loading party, just with the traditional Austrian dish Kaiserschmarrn.
The startline of the Vienna City Marathon is located just north of the river Danube. I recomment that you exit a the VIC station and approach the start line from the back. This will also give you easier access to the vans for the drop bags. There are 6 different starting blocks (3 right, 3 left) and porta potties on each side. Nevertheless waiting times for them can be quite long.
Vienna City Marathon course
The Vienna City Marathon starts to the music of Johann Strauss’ famous waltz “the blue Danube”. The race first heads over the bridge Reichsbrücke before turning left at the famous ferris wheel. the course then runs a few kilometers in the Prater park, before heading towards the Ring boulevard. The next sections is heading west and slightly uphill until you reach the famous Schönbrunn Palace. After that you run back towards the ring boulevard.
Shortly before the Marathon runners will turn left for the second half of the race, whereas the Half Marathon runners will run straight towards the finish line. The second half of the Marathon course takes a few loops in the 9th district of Vienna, before heading back to the Prater park. There it feels like an endless stretch running up and down the Prater Hauptallee, before finally turning back onto the Ring boulevard. The finish line is located on the Ring boulevard in front of the famous City Hall and the Burgtheater.
Along the course you will find aid stations with water, sports drinks, bananas and at km35 even Coke. They even set up water taps. What is missing however are gels and (like most of the time) enough porta potties.
After finishing the race you are handed your medal, water and some refreshments, which is pretty standard. The best part however is when you exit the immedeate finish area into the the square in front of the City Hall. This is a big Vienna City Marathon festival area, with lots of stalls, food, drinks where your friends and family can wait for you, cheer you on and have a good time. Although it was quite crowded, this one was definitely one of the best finish line areas I’ve seen so far.
Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. So when you are there make sure you also spend some time exploring it. My favorites are:
- The palaces: Schönbrunn Palace and Zoo (Including the baby Pandas), Belvedere Palace, the Imperial Palace
- The spiritual sites: Saint Stephan’s Cathedral, and the Karls church and the huge central cemetery (including the graves of Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss Father and Son, Schubert, Brahms and Falco)
- The parks: Volksgarten with its amazing roses, Burggarten and the famous Glass House, Prater Park with the big ferris wheel and the amusement park
- The museums: the twin museaums of Natural History and Art History Museum, the Museumsquartier with the musuem of modern art and the Leopold Museum, as well as the Albertina.
- The culture: The National Opera, the Volkstheater and the Burgtheater
- The food: the coffee houses like the Landtmann or the Café Central, have Sacher cake at hotel Sacher, Schnitzl at Figlmüller and Tafelspitz at Plachutta.
- The great outdoors: visit a winery in the viennese forrest and the famous Danube Island.