Mumbai Marathon: Ethiopians ace the pace

Updated: Jan 22, 2018, 08:57 IST | Hemal Ashar

Deksisa singes course as pacemakers fail to rev up things in men's race; Gobena is women's winner

Ethiopia's Solomon Deksisa (left) en route his win in the Mumbai Marathon yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
Ethiopia's Solomon Deksisa (left) en route his win in the Mumbai Marathon yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble

Solomon Deksisa and Amane Gobena, both from Ethiopia, won the Tata Mumbai Marathon on an unforgiving hot, Sunday morning with timings of 2:09:34 and 2:25:49 respectively. What was touted as a 'hot' race, turned out to be one, literally and figuratively, as temperatures began with 22 degrees Celsius at the 7.10 am start and soared by the time the elite athletes reached the 15-km mark.

Men's winner Deksisa, with a career best of 2:06:22 set at the 2016 Rotterdam Marathon, initially stayed at the back of the leading pack. He said, "I let the pacemakers do their job, I was comfortable at the back." When a lead group of men went through the halfway point in 64:28, it was becoming apparent that this 15th edition of the event would pose no threat to Gideon Kipketer's 2016 course record of 2:08:35.

Amane Gobena crosses the finish line. Pic/Shadab Khan
Amane Gobena crosses the finish line. Pic/Shadab Khan

At about 26 km, one saw bib No. 11, Joshua Kipkorir from Kenya surging. Kipkorir who was third in the race overall, said later that, "the pace was okay. The pacemakers started dropping back with the first one at 15km, the second at 25km and then another at 28km. It started getting difficult then." As the race wound down with 10 km to go, the group scattered with Kenyan Kipkorir, Deksisa and fellow Ethiopian Shumet Akalnaw.

With Mumbaikars cheering the African safari madly on the Marine Drive stretch, Deksisa ramped it up. For some hearstopping seconds one thought that Akalnaw will spring a surprise, but Deksisa clung on to his lead to make Mumbai, his first ever marathon win. "I came here to win and I have done so," he said at the post-race conference.

Second-placed Alkanaw, said he had "prepared very well for this race. The pacemakers did not really set the pace, they were running in intervals, pushing for a while, then back to slower running. Though I am a little disappointed with my timing, I am happy I came second," he signed off as the trio obeyed the elite athletes co-ordinator's command at the post-race conference when he said: "now, we will do photo."

The top women had a lot more to say post their podium finish, with Amane Gobena winner (2:25:49) stating, "The race was quite a difficult one. Though I am happy with my time, there were too many people on the course and I missed getting my water on the 5, 15 and 30 km mark. If this aspect is improved, we can run a faster race."
There was strife as the Metro construction is on. Second-placed Bornes Kitur (2:28:48) said that there were, "too many corners we had to take in the last km, compared to races elsewhere where you have a smoother run."

The third-placed woman, Shuko Genemo (2:29:41) was still feeling the effects of the race and did not attend the conference. The elite women though, unlike the men, said that the pacers did a, "great job."

There were suggestions for an earlier start to the elite races (instead of 7.10 am), crowding on the course and some athletes saying there were too many turns to the finish (this was because of the Metro construction work). You know a marathon is over when the forehead of Race Director Hugh Jones creased with concern through the race, smoothens out like a well-ironed shirt. The organisers may need to reach for their thinking caps, as the marathon moves towards a sweet 16th edition next year.

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