Army man Kheta Ram, who won Sunday's Vasai Virar Mayor's Marathon, had only competed in half marathons until yesterday
Kheta Ram of Army Sports Institute (ASI), Pune got the better of some stiff opposition in the form of defending champion Neeraj Pal and veteran Elam Singh besides a sudden rise in humidity en route to winning the fifth edition of Vasai-Virar Mayor’s Marathon in Virar yesterday.
Army Sports Institute’s (Pune) Kheta Ram during the Vasai-Virar Mayor’s Marathon in Virar yesterday. PIC/SHADAB KHAN
The 33-year-old set a new course record of 2:22.32s — six seconds better than the previous mark of 2:22.38s which was set by Pal last year. Girish Tiwari of Air Force (Bangalore) with a timing of 2:28.01s, finished second, while Sunil Prasad (2:29.20s) stood third.
Ram, who finished second in the half marathon here last year, said that he could not have asked for a better debut in the full version.
“I made the switch from half marathon to full with this race, so never expected to win on debut. This was more like a test event for me, but after the 35-km mark I felt good and decided to go all out for it,” said Ram, who has made the switch in an attempt to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
“I was mainly a track and field athlete, but since my performances haven’t been satisfactory, my coach (Surinder Singh) asked me to concentrate on the marathon. My aim it to achieve the Olympics qualifying mark (two hours, 17 minutes) through the Mumbai Marathon in January,” said Ram.
There was a minor goof-up when the results of men’s full marathon were declared yesterday. During the press briefing, Chandra Prakash of Army (Hyderabad) was declared the runner-up, while Girish Tiwari was handed third place. However, the organisers later found out that Prakash had missed a 100m U-turn en route and so had to be disqualified, paving the way for Tiwari to be placed second and Sunil Prasad third. Sunita Godara, the co-ordinator of the Indian elite athletes clarified: “The results that were given during the press conference were provisional results and not the final results. Later, the course officials brought Prakash’s error to our notice.” — SI