The same old story

Evans Ruto (centre) with the winner’s cheque after finishing ahead of his countrymen Lawrence Kimaiyo (left) and Philemon Baaru in the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.-PTI Evans Ruto (centre) with the winner’s cheque after finishing ahead of his countrymen Lawrence Kimaiyo (left) and Philemon Baaru in the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.

Runners from East Africa — Kenyans in the men’s section and Ethiopians on the distaff side — continued to be in charge at the Mumbai Marathon. G. Viswanath reports.

The main purpose of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM), promoted by Procam International, is to showcase some of the best talent from world marathon. Going by the quality of runners on show in the decade gone by, one can hardly complain. Another important aspect of the Mumbai Marathon has been the near domination of the East African runners — Kenyans in the men’s section and Ethiopians in the women’s category.

This year, the event had a remarkable field, with almost a score of runners with a personal best of under 2.10.00s, in the fray as part of the international elite group. Therefore, it came as no surprise that even the not-so-favourite Kenyans, Evans Ruto (2.09.33), Lawrence Kimaiyo (2.09.45) and Philemon Baaru (2.09.58), finished in the top three. Eight Kenyans figured in the top 10, the other two being Ethiopians. The international elite men’s field of 37 comprised runners from Eritrea, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Belgium.

The women’s section of the marathon went on predictable lines, with last year’s runner-up Dinkesh Mekash of Ethiopia winning in 2.28.08 seconds. She was followed by Gladys Kipsoi of Kenya, making her debut in marathon, and Bizunesh Urgesa of Ethiopia. Eight Ethiopians and two Kenyans figured in the top 10.

While almost all the participants were professionals, what was interesting about the American couple, Justin Gillette and Melissa Gillette, was their passion for marathon. They have had a great degree of success in marathon not known in these parts. Justin, from Goshen, Indiana, ran his first marathon at the age of 16 and has gone well past the century mark. “I am not sure how many marathons I have run, maybe 135. I have won 72 marathons; my wife has run around 50 marathons and won 16,” Justin, 30, told Sportstar via Facebook.

Dinkesh Mekash crosses the finish line to win the women's title at the Mumbai Marathon.-PTI

Though Mumbai, according to Race Director Hugh Jones (the first Briton to win the London Marathon), is not a natural territory for marathon, the runners in the SCMM had achieved good timings. Ruto, who stands at 5 feet, 9 inches, was unlucky to miss the course record by two seconds, which cost him $15,000 in bonus. “There were many joggers (amateur runners) in front. Had it not been for them, I would have created a new course record. I had to run 12 kilometres (to school and back). We live in a hilly terrain,” said the 35-year-old marathoner after winning $41,000 as prize money.

Jos Hermens, a former middle- and long-distance runner and the co-ordinator for the international elite runners, said: “The weather was fine, although windy on the Sea Link stretch. The arrangements were good at the start and finishing points and the position of water stations. This event has become popular and there will be more amateur runners every year. If the event has to become more professional, then something has to be done with the joggers, who come in the way of the elite runners. At times, it does get rude to ask these amateurs to run on the side of the road in order to give way to the elite runners. Maybe, they can start the race at 6.30 a.m.”

According to Hermens, the secret of the East African runners’ success is ‘ugali’, a dish made of maize of a different variety. Most African runners use the prize money they earn to invest in farmlands and grow maize for commercial reasons. “ Ugali also helps in the intake of more oxygen,” Hermens added.

THE RESULTS

International Elite — Men: 1. Evans Ruto (Kenya) 2.09.33s, 2. Lawrence Kimaiyo (Kenya) 2.09.45, 3. Philemon Baaru (Kenya) 2.09.58.

Women: 1. Dinkesh Mekash (Ethiopia) 2.28.08s, 2. Gladys Kipsoi (Kenya) 2.29.53, 3. Bizunesh Urgesa (Ethiopia) 2.30.00.

Indian Elite — Men: 1. Karan Singh 2.24.08s, 2. Rashpal Singh 2.24.38, 3. Binning Lyngkhoi 2.24.40.

Women: 1. Lalita Babbar 2.50.31s, 2. Vijaymala Patil 2.59.58, 3. Jyoti Gawate 3.02.59.

Half marathon — Men: 1. Indrajeet Patel 1.04.56s, 2. Soji Mathew 1.05.45, 3. Mansingh 1.06.17.

Women: 1. Sudha Singh 1.18.24s, 2. Kavita Raut 1.21.15, 3. Kiran Sahdev 1.21.57.

Amateur men: 1. M. Jegadheesan 2.42.13s, 2. Tanaji Nalavade 2.50.54, 3. Arun Kumar Sahni 2.53.08.

Amateur women: 1. Liz Henderson 3.31.37s, 2. Timtim Sharma 3.33.29, 3. Neera Katwal 3.34.59.

Police Cup — Men: Team ‘A’ (Umesh Gavhane, Dhondiram Kumbhar, Appa Kumbhare, Ganesh Thorat) 2.38.53 and Team ‘B’ (Omkar Jadhav, Kiran Talekar, Sidharam Dongaraje, Nitin Rathod) 2.42.37.

Women: Team comprising Priya Naiek, Teja Naik, Namrata Tare, Priyanka Navkudkar) 3.07.21.