Recognition and prize money won’t be the only incentives for participants at the Tata Mumbai Marathon to be held here on Sunday.
Owing to the Gold Label status given to the event by the IAAF — the world athletics governing body — leading finishers among men and women could be in the reckoning for spots at the World Athletics Championships 2019, in Doha. The best will need to meet the qualifying standard — 2:16:00 for men and 2:37:00 for women — at least.
The IAAF has targetted 100 marathoners to be on the starting line at the event. Aspirants would have to clock their best timings within the standard in the stipulated qualification period — March, 2018 to September, 2019.
All eyes on Rawat, Gopi
For the Indian runners in the fray for Sunday’s marathon, the event will be an opportunity to show the world India’s quality in distance running. Among men, Nitendra Rawat, the course record holder (2:15:48), will be among the favourites.
The field was tough for Rawat and compatriot T. Gopi last year, as the first nine in the marathon had registered a time fulfilling the qualification standard. A year later, the competition is far superior; the two Indians will compete with Ethiopia’s Abarra Kuma (personal best 2:05:50 at Rotterdam 2018) — the fastest in the fray.
Pace-setters in front, and elite runners in the lead pack will tire out many. Gopi and Rawat — the two Indian Olympians — and their compatriots need to hang in there till the finish.
Opportunity for Sudha
Among women, Lalita Babar, the course record holder (2:50:31), will not participate this year. Sudha Singh, India’s 3000m steeplechase runner, has taken on the mantle from Lalita; she is credited with a personal best (2:35:35) recorded at the 2015 World Athletics Championships.
Last year, pacing herself against Hendrik Ramalaa, the Olympics marathoner from South Africa, to set the pace for women competitors at the corresponding marathon, the steeplechase ace finished seventh overall, clocking 2:48:32. Sudha will need to be close to her best to be among the 100 marathoners on the IAAF shortlist for Doha.
At the Mumbai Marathon in 2018, only Amane Gobena, the women’s champion from Ethiopia, had fulfilled the IAAF standard. She had a race timing of 2:25:49. The Ethiopian is defending her title in 2019, and with a personal best 2:21:51 clocked at Tokyo Marathon 2016, is the No. 1 in the women’s pack.
- Fastest male runners in the Tata Mumbai Marathon (elite category) are: Amane Kuma from Ethiopia (PB 2:05:50), Jacob Kendagor (2:07:33) from Kenya, and Elijah Kemboi (2:07:34), also from Kenya.
- The best women marathoners competing this time are three Ethiopians — Amane Gobena (PB 2:21:51), Dinknesh Mekash (2:23:12), Shuko Genemo (2;24:31).
- To put timings in perspective, the Rio Olympics marathon gold medallists — Eliud Kopchoge (2:08:44) from Kenya among men, and Jemima Sumngong (2:24:04), also from Kenya, among women — will be tested by the batch of 2019.
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