Mumbai Marathon: Lagat, Worknesh clinch men’s and women’s titles

Appearing at the Tata Mumbai Marathon for the first time, Kenya's Cosmas Lagat and Ethiopia's Worknesh Alemu win titles.

Published : Jan 20, 2019 18:03 IST , Mumbai

Worknesh Alemu in action during the Tata Mumbai Marathon on Sunday.
Worknesh Alemu in action during the Tata Mumbai Marathon on Sunday.

Worknesh Alemu in action during the Tata Mumbai Marathon on Sunday.

Kenya’s Cosmas Lagat took charge of the elite men’s marathon, after realising that pre-race favourite Abera Kuma was nowhere in sight. He switched gear at the 32kms-mark and strode majestically to victory in two hours, nine minutes and 15 seconds at the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019. Aychew Bante struggled to take the second place (2:10:05), while Shumet Akalnew (2:10:14) was a close third.

Ethiopian Worknesh Alemu faced a similar situation in elite women’s category. With Amane Gobena expected to lead the way, Worknesh kept waiting for the latter to emerge in front. Hesitant to break away, the champion held herself back till she realised that she was alone and had to work out own strategy till the tape. The follower turned into a leader, displaying a strong finish in hot and humid conditions for winning time of 2:25:45. Amane was a distant second (2:26:09), while Birke Debele was third (2:26:39).

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Africans ran the marathon show, Ethiopians dominated in women's and men’s categories, the exception being bold Cosmas--who won on debut in Mumbai. “I want to be known as a finisher,” remarked the Kenyan, once a pacemaker for elite athletes at the 2016 London Marathon.

Cosmas Lagat after winning the Tata Mumbai Marathon on Sunday.

“It was a one-off decision, London Marathon is a big race and it helped get used to the weather. I like to win races.” The two champions earned $ 45,000 each.

Amane Gobena was such a big name in the elite women’s entry list, that fellow Ethiopian Worknesh felt: “I waited for her to hit the front at some point in the race, so played it safe and followed the pacemaker. At 34kms, I was feeling fresh and since she was not speeding up, I decided to try and finish.”

It was a win on first appearance, second career win after Morocco. And both the 2019 champions have managers to take career decisions, from sending entry to prize money spending.

Cosmas’ manager submitted his entry for Mumbai at the eleventh hour, after assessing other races worldwide. Worknesh’s manager will decide how the booty will be spent. The 2:16 and 2:37 qualification timings decided by IAAF for the Doha World Athletics Championships apply to these Africans also. Competition in Kenya and Ethiopia is so intense that winning bigger races are on their mind. But both enjoyed the Mumbai experience on debut.

The results

Men’s marathon: 1. Cosmas Lagat (KEN) 2:09:15, 2. Aychew Bante (ETH) 2:10:05, 3. Shumet Akanew (ETH) 2:10:14, 4. Daniel (ETH) 2:10:55, 5. Aychew Mekuant (ETH) 2:11:16.

Women’s marathon: 1. Worknesh Alemu (ETH) 2:25:45, 2. Amane Gobena (ETH) 2:26:09, 3. Birke Debele (ETH) 2:26:39, 4. Mergertu Alemu (ETH) 2:31:00, 5. Almaz Negeda (ETH) 2:31:45.

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