Mumbai: Defending men's champion Evans Ruto of Kenya is pleased with the promise by organisers of the Mumbai Marathon that suitable steps would be in place for the January 18 race to avoid a repeat of 2014 when casual runners got in the way of elite athletes.
"It will be best if they do it (prevent the recurrence of last year)," said Ruto today ahead of the Standard Chartered Bank title-sponsored event. "We do have plans for preventing such an incident this year. There will be barriers and race marshals," said race director Hugh Jones at a media conference yesterday.
Ruto won the race last year after clocking 2:09:33, just one second off the course record set by Uganda's Jackson Kiprop in 2013, and then complained that "joggers" came in his way when he was trying to break the course record. The Kenyan, who has a personal best of 2:07:49 to his credit, is racing for the fourth time in India and said, "Mumbai is best for me as there are no winds and not many ups and downs (in the course)."
The defending champion is set for a big challenge for the top prize of USD 41,000 from compatriots Henry Sugat - the three-time Vienna champion with a career-best time of 2:06:58 - and Luke Kibet, the 2007 World Champion of Osaka. Ruto said it will depend on the type of preparations the individuals have had when asked whether there could be a repeat of a 1-2-3 sweep by Kenyans this year too. "You never know."
Kenyan woman runner and strong title contender Gladys Kipsoi - who finished second behind winner Dikesh Mekash of Ethiopia in 2014 - is confident of doing well this year. "I think I will do well on Sunday," said Gladys who has clocked a personal best of 2:29:53. Cash prizes are on offer from the winner to the tenth-placer who gets USD 1,500 out of the total fund of USD 3,60,000.
The runner-up would take home USD 21,000, while the third-placed finisher would be richer by USD 15,000. The top Indian finisher in the men's and women's full marathons would get Rs 5 lakh each, while the second and third-placed runners would get Rs 4 lakh and 3 lakh respectively. Cash prizes are on offer up to the tenth spot.