Mumbai: It was evident at the press conference of the elite Indian half-marathon podium finishers yesterday that running, or even winning, the 21.097 km race was not a priority for most of the top finishers.
From left: Kiran Sahdev, Kavita Raut, Sudha Singh, Indrajeet Patel, Soji Matthew and Man Singh. Pic/Amit Kamath
That’s because these runners are essentially track and field athletes and only treat the marathon as a way to increase make some money and in the bargain also boost their endurance.
Arjuna awardee Sudha Singh, who pocketed a cool Rs 1.25 lakh by finishing with a timing of 1:18:24 secs, said: “We just ran 18 kms on Wednesday. We have our training session again on Tuesday.
Winning here was not a priority, we only competed as a part of practice.
Currently we’re training for the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games later this year. We are not usually allowed to participate in marathons, but this time our coach said ‘participate only for the mileage’.
And we got to make some money too,” said Singh, who holds the national record in steeplechase and is the reigning Asian Games 2010 steeplechase champion.
Kavita Raut, who finished second with a timing of 1:21:15 secs, added: “We are long-distance runners, so we need the mileage and the endurance.
“This also helps in getting us some publicity and we gain some valuable confidence too for the upcoming competitions. So, these events (marathons) are very beneficial.”
Their mindset seems to have rubbed off on 21-year-old rookie Kiran Sahdev, who finished third in her very first half-marathon.
Sahdev said, “I just wanted to finish the race, winning was not on my mind. My first priority is track events and then the marathon. I just want to run one or two marathons (a year). My aim is to represent India at the Olympics.”
Meanwhile, the men’s half-marathon winner in the Indian elite category, Indrajeet Patel, said, “Last year my performance wasn’t good at marathons as I was not preparing for marathons. I was instead focusing on the track events. Our main focus is track events. Since our payment is not good enough to sustain ourselves, we participate in marathons.”