African athletes expected to dominate Tata Mumbai Marathon

The runners spoke of the conditions in Mumbai and their feelings ahead of Sunday's Marathon.

International men's elite athletes for TATA Mumbai Marathon 2018 (l to r) Jeffrey Eggleson of USA, Solomon Deksisa of Ethiopia, Evans Ruto of Kenya and Joshua Kipkorir of Kenya.   -  Vivek Bendre

African athletes are likely to dominate proceedings at Sunday’s Tata Mumbai Marathon with all of them, both men and women, geared up for the mega event.

While in the Men’s Full Marathon, among the Africans, Solomon Deksisa (Ethiopia), Evans Ruto (Kenya) and his compatriot Joshua Kipkoror are set for the race, in the women’s category Kenyan Bornes Kitur and Ethiopian Amane Gobena and Shuko Genemo, among others, will compete for the top spot.

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In the men’s category, Jeffrey Eggleston from the United States can give tough competition to the Africans and may spring a surprise.

These athletes spoke to media persons here today, two days prior to the race.

Kitur, who is the defending champion, said the course was nice and that she enjoyed running in the city.

“The finish (last year) was great and this year the build up to the Marathon has been great as well,” added Kitur, who has a personal best of 2:29:01.

Ethiopian Gobena, who has been running for several years now, said she gets motivated to train because she loved the sport.

Asked why she has not run from May last year, Gobena revealed that she got dropped for the World Championships in London and hence was disappointed and decided not to train for two months.

“I have a good life in Ethiopia and have no other business than running,” Gobena quipped, looking set for Sunday.

Her compatriot Shuko Genemo, who emerged as the champion in 2016, recalled that the race was not an easy one.

“I am in good shape for the Sunday race,” Genemo said, adding that she trains two times a day, in the morning and the afternoon.

All the three women seem set for Sunday and all of them would be surely aiming for a podium finish.

Among the elite runners in the men’s category, Kenyan Joshua Kipkoror looked the most confident saying that he could break the men’s course record of 2:08:35, held by Gideon Kipketer.

“I am in good shape this time around and it will all depend on the climate. Last year the climate was good,” he said.

Deksisa, who also said that he was in a better shape, revealed that it was his coach who advised him to run the Mumbai race.

“I was with my coach and asked him whether to run the Dubai Marathon or the Mumbai Marathon and my coach asked me to run in Mumbai,” said the Ethiopian runner, who stood third in the Toronto Marathon last year.

He revealed that in his career, as he did not get chance to run track races, he chose road races and attributed his not so good performance in the Bengaluru race last year to lack of time to prepare.

Kenyan Evans Ruto is another favourite to win the race and has experience of running four times in Mumbai, having won the race in 2014.

His first race outside Africa was way back in 2008.

Both, Deksisa and Ruto, expressed confidence that they were geared up to break the course record.

The lone American present for the media conference, Jeffery Eggleston, said that he was getting acclimatized to Mumbai, which is expected to be humid on January 21.

So while Mumbaikars should not be surprised if they saw the Africans winning again, the American might spring a surprise.