Mumbai: Mumbai has been a happy hunting ground for 38-year-old marathoner John Kelai. The former two-time Mumbai Marathon champion (he won in 2007 and 2008) has run the USD 3,60,000 prize-money race four times and hopes to better his timing of 2:11.05sec this Sunday.

John Kelai
Kenya’s John Kelai (second from left) with some of the other elite athletes during a press conference yesterday. Pic/Shadab Khan

He feels India and especially Mumbai is lucky for him. “Having won the title twice, I definitely would want to win it for the third time. But it isn’t going to be easy. I love to run in Mumbai. 

It is my belief that whenever I have done well here, I have gone on to do better in other events. Like when I won in 2007, I won the Toronto Marathon with a personal best time of 2.09.30. I even won my first Commonwealth gold medal in Delhi.

I have trained hard and I know the course and conditions here. Let’s hope for the best,” he said during a media interaction at the SCMM Media Centre yesterday.

Kelai said with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow coming up later this year, he needs to give his best here. 

“I am not sure whether I would be selected to represent my country in the CWG. The federation will be watching my performance here. Hence, it’s a must for me to do well in Mumbai. It is my dream to defend my gold in Glasgow.”

The other two men’s elite athletes are — Ethiopian Hailu Mekonnen and South Africa’s Gladwin Mzazi. Mekonnen’s fastest time is 2:07.35, while Mzazi, who is making his debut in Mumbai, finished seventh in last year’s Delhi Half Marathon.