Tanzania’s Alphonce Simbu wins Mumbai Marathon

Africans dominated the elite category in men’s and women’s section at the 14th Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2017. Tanzania’s Alphonce Felix Simbu, fifth-place finisher at Rio Olympics last year, strode to victory in men’s marathon, clocking 2:09:32.

International elite athletes in full flow during 14th Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.   -  Prashant Nakwe

Africans dominated the elite category in men’s and women’s section at the 14th Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2017. Tanzania’s Alphonce Felix Simbu, fifth-place finisher at Rio Olympics last year, strode to victory in men’s marathon, clocking 2:09:32 on a warm Sunday morning, earning USD 42,000 purse. Kenyan Bornes Kitur won the women’s marathon in a personal best time of 2:29:02 and also pocketed USD 42,000.

Simbu was followed home by two Kenyans. Kiture left two Tanzanians in her wake. India’s Jyoti Gawte clinched ninth place overall in women's marathon, clocking a personal best 2:50:33 and was first among Indian women elite runners. Kheta Ram finished first among Indian men elite participants, timed at 2:19:51 and 13th position overall. Jyoti and Kheta will earn Rs 5,00,000 prize money as Indian toppers.

The SCMM 2017 half-marathon (21km) winners were G. Lakshmanan (men) in 1:05:05 and Monika Athare (women) in 1:19:13. Other events in the Procam International-promoted event were the Dream Run, Senior Citizens Run and the Champions with Disability Run. The full marathon starts and ends opposite CST station and the route is along the seafront.

Running his first marathon after Rio Games in August 2016, Simbu owed his victory to his preparation. "I was told by others with prior experience here to be prepared for the hill sections and humidity. So I trained accordingly," said the Tanzanian.

Women’s Champion Kitur had run in SCMM 2016. "I went with the pacemaker after 25 km and no one followed," said the Kenyan, happy to clock a personal best (2:29:02). Chaltu Tafa (2:33:03) came a distant second, Tigist Girma third (2:33:19).

The men's marathon also had pacemakers, but warm weather on race day, after a week of unseasonal low temperatures in Mumbai, resulted in competitors focussed on finishing instead of chasing course records (2:08:35 men and 2:24:33 women respectively).

Kheta, who participated in the Rio Olympics, said: "I trained for a month in Bengaluru after taking a two-month break on return from Rio. Timing could have been lower, but I am not disappointed. Last year was the Olympic year, so preparation was different. Finishing first in Indians makes me happy."

Bahadur Singh Dhoni pushed the Olympian on the home stretch before clocking 2:19:57. "I hoped to gain World Championships qualification here, it did not happen and will need to wait," said one of many ASI distance-runners in SCMM.

Maharashtra's Jyoti, aware of being the fastest Indian woman, paced herself well to grab ninth place overall, behind one Kenyan, one Tanzanian, six Ethiopians.

The results:

Marathon Elite Men: Alphonce Felix Simbu (Tan) 2:09:32; Joshua Kipkorir (Ken) 2:09:50; Eliud Barngetuny (Ken) 2:10:39. India Men: Kheta Ram 2:19:51; Bahadur Singh Dhoni 2:19:57; T H Sanjith 2:21:19.

Marathon Elite Women: Bornes Kitur (Ken) 2:29:02; Chaltu Tafa (Eth) 2:33:03; Tigist Girma (Eth) 2:33:19. India Women: Jyoti Gawte 2:50:53; Shwamali Singh 3:08:41; Jigmet Dolma 3:14:38.

Half-Marathon Men: G. Lakshmanan 1:05:05; Sachin Patil 1:06:22; Deepak Kumbhar 1:06:28.

Half-Marathon Women: Monika Athare 1:19:13; Minakshi Patil 1:20:53; Anuradha Singh 1:25:20.