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Mumbai Marathon: Evans Ruto loses Rs 9 lakh for a second's delay

Kenyan wins Mumbai Marathon, clocking 2:09:33 — just one second off the course record that carried a bonus of USD15,000

Mumbai: For a farmer, every penny counts. So, imagine losing out on USD 15,000 (approximately Rs nine lakh) due to the delay of a mere second!

no 1: Kenya’s Evans Ruto crosses the finish to win the Mumbai Marathon yesterday.  Pic/Atul Kamble
No 1: Kenya’s Evans Ruto crosses the finish to win the Mumbai Marathon yesterday.  Pic/Atul Kamble

That’s what happened to Kenyan Evans Ruto as he crossed the finish yesterday to win the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon clocking 2:09:33 secs — one second slower than last year’s course record of 2:09:32 set by Ugandan Jackson Kiprop.

Needless to say, Ruto, who owns a fair bit of farmland back home in Kenya but finds little time to work on it, was a tad disappointed despite pocketing the whopping winner’s purse of USD 41,000 (approximately Rs 24 lakh). “The course record jackpot (USD 15,000) is a lot of money and to lose it like that, hurts a bit.

But I’m happy with my performance and I will come back and lower the course record to 2:08 or even 2:07,” said Ruto, who, along with compatriots Lawrence Kimaiyo and Philemon Baaru, broke away from the lead pack of about 14 African runners around the 36-km mark (near Peddar Road).

The trio were in almost semi-sprint mode thereafter as they stormed across the Queen’s Necklace and then turned right for Churchgate where Ruto broke into first place and maintained it till the finish line at CST. Kimaiyo came in second (2:09:45), while Baaru was third (2:09:58). Kimaiyo pocketed USD 21,000 while Baaru was richer by USD 15,000.

Jones recalls...
Race director Hugh Jones, a former winner of the London and Stockholm Marathons, identified with Ruto’s one-second miss. “One normally associates the significance of a second with sprints and short distance races, but not in a marathon.

women on top: Mumbai Marathon’s elite women’s winners, Ethiopia’s Dinknesh Mekash (centre) with her gold medal, Kenya’s Gladys Kipsoi (left) with silver and Ethiopian Bizunesh Urgesa with the bronze. Pic/Shadab Khan
Women on top: Mumbai Marathon’s elite women’s winners, Ethiopia’s Dinknesh Mekash (centre) with her gold medal, Kenya’s Gladys Kipsoi (left) with silver and Ethiopian Bizunesh Urgesa with the bronze. Pic/Shadab Khan

But I can understand what Ruto must be going through because even I have lost out the top prize by a split-second decision,” Jones told MiD DAY yesterday, as he went on to explain: “In the 1983 Chicago Marathon, Kenyan Joseph Nzau and I clocked almost similar times before a split-second decision saw him take first place.

He clocked 2:09:44.3, while I was timed at 2:09:44.7. It’s painful but that just goes to show that marathons can be very competitive races too,” added Jones.

Joggers to blame
Ruto, Kimaiyo and Baaru admitted they all felt they had a shot at the course record towards the end of the race. “The course record was on my mind towards the last 5 km, but at the end there were a lot of joggers (overlapping runners from the previous amateur marathon) in our path and though the organisers did well to try and get them out of the way, that could have been a reason for us slowing down a bit at the end,” said Kimaiyo.

Elite athletes co-ordinator Jos Hermens also agreed with the winners that the sheer number of participants in the amateur marathons makes life a bit tough for the elite runners. “This is only my second association with the Mumbai Marathon but the sheer increase in numbers from last year to this year is amazing.

I don’t think this happens in any other marathon worldover. While on one hand, it goes to show that the popularity of the race is growing, on the other, it’s not the best thing to happen for the elite runners because they face a lot of disturbance on the homestretch.

Organisers might have to do a rethink next year in terms of ending the amateur race at a different venue or starting the elite race earlier,” he said.

Meanwhile, favourite Evans Cheruiyot of Kenya only managed a seventh-place (2:12:08 secs), while promising Ethiopian Hailu Mekkonen suffered blisters on his feet due to a new pair of shoes he wore and ended up finishing eighth (2:12:17 secs).

Among the elite international women, favourite Dinkesh Mekash of Ethiopia finished first clocking 2:28:08 secs, while Kenya’s Gladys Kipsoi (2:29:53) and Ethiopia’s Bizunesh Urgesa
(2:30:00) finished second and third respectively.

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