Kenya’s Cosmas Lagat hopes to be the second man to win consecutive Tata Mumbai Marathon titles in the event’s 17-year history. In 2007 and 2008, his compatriot, Jon Kelai, had won the title back-to-back and Lagat believes he has the ability to defend his title.

Even though a calf injury saw the Kenyan missing out of action for almost a year, he has trained hard for the last few weeks to get in shape for the prestigious IAAF Gold Label Road Race. “When I got an injury, I stopped training. This is the first event after recovery, but I have trained well and I am confident (of defending the title),” Lagat said on Friday.

Last year, Lagat won in style as he broke away from the rest of the leading pack around 30 kms into the race. “Last year, the other participants were very competitive. This time, I am very okay and my fitness is on the top,” Lagat, who is coached by former marathon great James Kwambai and trains with the likes of Lawrence Cherono, said.

Ethiopia’s Ayele Abshero, who finished second in the Hamburg Marathon last year, too, looks in good shape. “There’s no injury and I am looking forward to winning on Sunday,” Abshero said.

In the international elite women’s category, too, an intense fight between Worknesh Alemu and Amane Beriso is on the cards.

A defending champion in her category, Alemu had shattered the pre-race form book last year and went on to win in Mumbai with a personal best of 2:25:25 -- which was also the second fastest winning time in the marathon’s history.

“I am running for my personal best. I have wonderful memories from last year and there were such strong competitors, but I am confident,” the Ethiopian Worknesh said, indicating that she is keen on defending her title.

In it’s 17th year, the Tata Mumbai Marathon, promises to be yet another exciting event, when the action gets underway on Sunday.