After Vienna course record Samwel Mailu vows to help Kenyan talents.
Samwel Mailu was glued to the TV screen in Kenya when in October 2019, his idol Eliud Kipchoge broke the two-hour marathon barrier in Vienna’s Prater Park. The sensational achievement made worldwide headlines. It was exactly on the same stretch of road in the Prater, where Samwel Mailu broke away from his remaining rivals on Sunday during the 40th Vienna City Marathon. “But I did not think about Eliud in this moment as I was not aware that it was exactly on this road where he was running in 2019,“ said Samwel Mailu. With around 10 kilometers left in the race, the 30-year-old went on to break the nine-year-old course record of the Vienna City Marathon with a time of 2:05:08 in warm conditions.
Amazingly the final kilometer of the race was Samwel Mailu’s fastest on Sunday. Despite the final section of the Vienna City Marathon is less flat than the roads in the Prater Park, the Kenyan stormed through the 42nd kilometer in a breathtaking 2:44! This pace is much faster than Eliud Kipchoge ran in Vienna in 2019. While it was, of course, just one kilometer, it still indicates that there is much more to come from Samwel Mailu. “In the future I hope to be able to run 2:03 in the marathon and around 58 minutes in the half marathon,“ he said. Looking ahead to the autumn season Vienna’s winner added: “I would like to run one of the major races, and I would prefer a flat course like Berlin.“ Last autumn he ran his first marathon when he was entered as a pacemaker in Frankfurt. He carried on and finished second in 2:07:19.
“On Sunday, running in warm conditions suited me because I grew up in an area where it is warmer,“ said Samwel Mailu, whose parents are vegetable farmers. He grew up in a village called Ulawani, which is located not far from the Tanzanian border and Mount Kilimanjaro. He did not live in a high altitude and in contrast to many world-class athletes from Kenya, running to school did not form the basis for his career. “My school was just about one kilometer away from our home. I became interested in running when I saw my fellow pupils competing in school championships. I was 15 years old when I started training at primary school“, explained Samuel Mailu, who then moved to a different part of Kenya when he switched to high school. “There, I lived about even kilometers away from the school, but I often took the bike to get there.“
Samwel Mailu says that he then did not train for three years but re-started when he was doing a college course to become a primary teacher. “I competed at the national teachers’ championships in 2019 and won the 1,500, the 5,000, and the 10,000 meters.“ Instead of taking up a teacher’s job, he then decided to try running again. “I met my present coach Dickson Ngei and started training seriously in 2020 when I moved to his training camp in Machakos, southeast of Nairobi, where we train in an altitude of up to 2000 meters. We are eleven runners, and our coach still competes as well. He was second in the Kilimanjaro Marathon this year.“
While Samwel Mailu’s international career is still at the beginning, he already thinks about helping others start a career in athletics. “In the area where I grew up, football and other ball games dominate while running has not much significance. This is why I decided to organize a 10k running event there in Ulawani.“ The race will take place at the beginning of May. “We will help some young athletes by paying their school fees and try to guide them,“ explained Samwel Mailu, who has two brothers and two sisters. “One of my sisters was talented, but unfortunately, she never started training. There are many talents in the area where I come from, and I would like to help bring them up.“