It's said that a marathon is decided in the last five to 10 kilometres -- when the pace-setters drop out and the champions' leg muscles kick in. However, Kenya's Laban Moiben was confident he had the ninth edition of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon well and truly in his pocket as early as 28 kilometres.
Kenya's Laban Moiben sprints to victory yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
However, the Kenyan admitted that he never anticipated a photo finish with Ethiopian Raji Assefa. Moiben was adjudged winner of the 42-km event clocking 2:10:48 after all possible camera angles suggested Raji was just about a fraction behind. Kenyan John Kyui 2:10:54 finished third. The win may have been by a fraction, but the difference in prize money -- USD 36000 vs USD 25000 -- would definitely have hurt Assefa.
Moiben though believed he could have done better, considering he knew he was in a strong position early.
"Around the 28-km mark, I wanted to test the field, so I kicked off and went ahead of the pack in a sprint. I wanted to see if anyone was following me as that would have given me a sense of the competition.
"However, no one gave me chase. That's when I knew that I can win this. I then slowed down rejoined the pack, knowing well at the back of my mind, that I can breakaway again," Moiben told MiD DAY.
The pre-mature exit of compatriot William Kipsang also contributed in a major way to his win, said Moiben.
"I knew William would be a strong competitor here, but once I realised he dropped out of the race mid-way, due to a cramp or an injury... I'm not sure, I thought I had a good chance of winning," added Moiben.