The big interview

How did you still manage to finish last?

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22.04.2024 20:30

She is asthmatic, he has knee problems: Bobby and Abena Stanic from Vienna still managed to complete the marathon! After 6 hours, 33 minutes and 37 seconds, the couple crossed the finish line together and finished in the last two places. They told their story to the "Krone".

It's the morning after the big run. The two last finishers of the Vienna City Marathon come into the Twin Towers of Wienerberg City, he limping, she with back pain. "Just how you feel after a marathon," they laugh. Abena's sentences just gush out, Bobby (short for Slobodan) speaks less often and more quietly. Now 41 years old, he was practically forced to run in the army by the famous Vice Lieutenant Eismayer, for which he is still grateful today. She has been running since she was a child. "In Africa, I used to walk an hour and a half to school every day," says the 39-year-old Ghanaian. The 41st Vienna City Marathon was their first marathon together. And a great adventure together.

"Krone": Which of you came up with the idea of registering for the marathon?
Bobby: That was me. I thought my wife would be happy about it. And she was. I have a lot to thank her for. She reawakened my passion for running.
Abena: But I wasn't sure whether he would be able to do it with his knee problems. That's why I thought a half marathon would be enough. But he was so mentally strong that only the full was an option for him.

What is a marriage like when you are training for a marathon?
Abena: It's exhausting. Going to bed early is the number one rule, and no alcohol. But neither of us miss it. Only sometimes, when the day has become too long, I treat myself to a glass of Hugo. But if I'm annoyed, I'd rather go for a run to find myself again.
Bobby: My knees soon gave me problems during training. We used to cut up diced onions every night, wrap them in a white cloth and tie them to our knees while we slept. It stank so bad!
Abena: But it helped. The pain was gone. We were able to continue training and compete.

Coming last, is that a disgrace or a triumph?
Abena: It was unexpected for me to make it at all. I got extreme heel pain at kilometer 18, which got worse and worse. Suddenly I also felt my hips and intervertebral discs. I had cramps. I cried and was terribly disappointed. I knew my body had decided. I have to slow down.
Bobby: But for me, the knee pain was only bearable if I kept up a certain pace. That's why I ran ahead, but promised my wife that we would cross the finish line together. When I got there, I realized that I couldn't wait, so I ran back again.

He limps, she has back pain: marathon couple Bobby and Abena at the meeting in Wienerberg City (Bild: Klemens Groh )
He limps, she has back pain: marathon couple Bobby and Abena at the meeting in Wienerberg City

How did you still manage to finish?
Abena: I was motivated by the final runners, they were so nice. They said there were still others behind us. They saw my cramps and asked if they should call the rescue team. I said: No, I'm going to finish! At kilometer 40, a runner with a guitar started singing for me. At kilometer 41, people were cheering us on. And then I saw my husband.
Bobby: The final runners shouted: You're the last to cross the finish line!
Abena: I thought, oh my God, we've really made it. And then the tears started to flow.

Zitat Icon

I'm asthmatic and a runner. You shouldn't give an illness the power to rule your life.

Abena hat nicht auf den Rat des Lungenarztes gehört

Because you mentioned the guitarist. Do you even notice something like that when you're struggling like that?
Abena: Oh yes. I also saw the man who was walking with a pineapple on his head.
Bobby: And some of them were barefoot.
Abena: I also think it was so nice that there was dancing and music and drumming for us runners. From salsa to waltz. I stopped and danced along for a moment. You have to keep an eye on the time, but it's even more important to have fun.
Bobby: That's why I ate lots of bananas on the way, including muesli bars and pretzels, and I drank Coke with it.
Abena: I only drink water. By the liter. Bobby always says I drink as much as a cow!

A marathon like that isn't exactly healthy.
Abena: Who says it's not healthy? Running is very healthy. In a marathon, it depends on what physical condition you are in. A marathon is a huge challenge for the body, but even more so for the mind. I always say: you have to be mentally very strong, even more so than physically fit. And you shouldn't listen to what others say.

They were the last to cross the finish line in the marathon: Bobby and Abena, married for 18 years, two children. (Bild: APA/MAX SLOVENCIK, zVg, Krone KREATIV)
They were the last to cross the finish line in the marathon: Bobby and Abena, married for 18 years, two children.

For example?
Abena: I am asthmatic. I always have my spray with me when I run. A lung doctor told me that asthma and running are not recommended. But one of the final runners had already had a heart operation. Nevertheless, we all crossed the finish line. You shouldn't give an illness the power to determine your life.
Bobby: And you should never believe that you won't make it. Even if things look bad, like with my knees, everything can always turn around.

The marathon couple in an interview with Conny Bischofberger (Bild: Klemens Groh )
The marathon couple in an interview with Conny Bischofberger

Is running more torture or more bliss?
Abena: I say happiness.
Bobby: It's both. Running has taught me how to deal with pain. And I've learned a lot about Abena. She didn't give up. She didn't give up for more than six and a half hours. Yes, we were the last ones and we would have been disappointed if we hadn't made it. But it is neither a disgrace to be last nor a disgrace not to be able to finish somewhere along the route. For me, everyone who has pushed themselves to the limit is a winner. That's what I took away from my vice lieutenant for my life.
Abena: I'm much prouder of Bobby than I am of myself. I'm overwhelmed that he managed a full marathon as an amateur runner.

Zitat Icon

For me, everyone who has pushed themselves to the limit is a winner. That's what I took away from my vice lieutenant for my life.

Bobby ist Eismayer dankbar, dass er ihn damals geschunden hat

This year, for the first time, no Kenyate has won. What would you like to say to the winner, Chala Regassa from Ethiopia?
Bobby: I would be interested in his life story. How he got to where he is today.
Abena: I would like to meet the Eritrean runner, Nazret Weldu! I think every marathon runner has a very special story.

THEIR LOVE BEGAN AT MCDONALDS

Slobodan's parents are Serbian immigrants and he was born in Vienna on July 13, 1982. He met Abena, born on December 25, 1984 in Ghana, at McDonalds. She, her parents and two siblings came to Austria in 2011. Married for 18 years, one son (17) and one daughter (7). Abena works at Schwechat Airport, Slobodan is a tree protection expert for the City of Vienna. With start numbers 8569 and 8572 and a time of 6:33:37, they were the last to finish the 41st Vienna City Marathon.

Have you had any experience of racism in Austria?
Bobby looks at his wife from the side. His look is serious.
Abena: Yes, unfortunately. I don't like to say the word. I always thought it had no place in sport. But that's not true.

In the interview, Abena also talks about her experiences with racism: "I didn't really want to say that word." (Bild: Klemens Groh )
In the interview, Abena also talks about her experiences with racism: "I didn't really want to say that word."

What happened?
People think that because you're black, you have advantages, because you're black, you run faster. But just because I have a different skin color doesn't mean I'm a Speedy Gonzales and don't have to train. I'm a human being like everyone else and I want to be perceived as such.

What would you like society to do?
That they respect us black people. I was bullied and attacked and am still in therapy because of it. I had to leave my sports club. Nevertheless, I'm happy to live in Austria, it's a wonderful country. The racists - now I say the word - don't count for me.
Bobby: I also have an experience on this subject, although my skin color is white. At school, I was once the only one who knew the right answer. My primary school teacher said: Shame on you! He, who is a foreigner here, knows that and you don't!" I was still small and couldn't make sense of it. What made me different from the other children? I grew up in Austria just like them. That was racism too.
Abena: We try to educate the children so that they don't get involved in emotional battles. But to appreciate the positive things that exist here.
Bobby: And to be the best example themselves.

Do you want to run another marathon?
Bobby: I've had enough for now. - Laughs.
Abena: Running the 42nd Vienna Marathon at 42, 42 kilometers again, that would be something!

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