Sudha Singh, running alongside Vicky Tomar, a personal pacemaker, clocked a personal best of two hours, 34 minutes, and 55 seconds to register the best time among Indians in the women’s category at the Tata Mumbai Marathon, 2019. Overall, she finished eighth in the elite category.
The effort improved her chances of securing a spot for the marathon at the IAAF World Athletics Championship, 2019, as she managed to go under 2:37:00, the qualifying standard.
This was an improvement from her earlier personal best — 2:35:55 — set at the World Athletics Championship, 2015, in Beijing. By her performance, she also set a new course record for Indian women at the marathon. O. P. Jaisha, with a timing of 2:37:29, was the earlier record holder.
As per rules, she became entitled to the higher purse between ₹5,00,000 — the prize money for being the leading Indian finisher — and USD 3,500 — the prize for the eighth-place finish. Besides the prize money, Sudha earned an incentive of ₹2,00,000 for establishing a new high among Indian finishers.
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Delighted at her performance, she said: “I am looking at reducing my marathon timing by taking part in tougher competitions. Running against a quality field, I can try to get closer to 2:30:00.”
She credited pacemaker Tomar for helping her set the record time. “He is also a steeplechaser like me, we train together in the national camp. Vicky knows my style of running, so was able to pace me nicely. Last year in Mumbai, the women’s marathon had a pacemaker from outside (South African Olympian Hendrik Ramalaa) and we took time to strike an understanding of what to do on the road,” she said.
Among Indian women, Sudha was followed by Jyoti Gawte (2:45:48) and Jigmet Dolma (3:10:42).
Narrow miss for Rawat
Nitendra Singh Rawat, the best finisher among Indian men (2:15:52) also cleared the qualifying standard (2:16:00) for the IAAF World Championship. Looking ahead to taking part in the prestigious London Marathon, he said, “I will run in the elite category at London and will start preparing accordingly.”
Rawat was, however, upset at finishing four seconds behind his own course record (2:15:48). Nevertheless, for his finish, he received ₹5,00,000.
Rawat and his training partner, T. Gopi, were left to pace themselves on their own after designated pacemakers boosting the elite male athletes were too far ahead. “I tried my best for the Indian course record but missed it narrowly,” Rawat reflected.
Gopi suffered pain in his calf in the marathon, and after taking a break to recover, focussed on finishing.
Overall, among Indian men, Rawat was followed by Gopi (2:17:03) and Karan Singh (2:20:10), respectively, in second and third positions.
- Women’s marathon : 1. Sudha Singh (2:34:55), 2. Jyoti Gawte (2:45:48), 3. Jigmet Dolma (3:10:42).
- Half-marathon: 1. Meenu (1:18:05), 2. Sangeeta Naik (1:19:01), 3. Manju Yadav (1:25:11).
- Men’s marathon : 1. Nitendra Rawat (2:15:52), 2. Thonkal Gopi (2:17:03), 3. Karan Singh (2:20:10).
- Half-marathon: 1. Srinu Bhugatha (1:05:49). 2. Shankar Man Thapa (1:06:07), 3. Kalidas Hirave (1:06:38).