Tata Mumbai Marathon Build-up: Running too fast, or flying too low?

Updated: Jan 18, 2020, 08:04 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Elite athletes all set for Sunday; weather conducive for new course record

International elite athletes Cosmas Lagat (left), Amane Beriso, Ayele Abshero and Worknesh Alemu (right) at the selfie point outside Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus yesterday. Pic/ Atul Kamble
International elite athletes Cosmas Lagat (left), Amane Beriso, Ayele Abshero and Worknesh Alemu (right) at the selfie point outside Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus yesterday. Pic/ Atul Kamble

It is fast times and climes at the Mumbai marathon as there is an incredibly strong field in the men's race, with at least 15 men who have run faster than 2:10:00.

Defending champion Cosmos Lagat said he was "feeling good" at the press meet at the media centre on Friday. Though he had been injured through the larger part of 2019, he said, "I have got good treatment and recovered well."

Lagat has eyes on Mumbai

Answering a question about Tokyo Olympics, which is a massive target for most athletes, Lagat said, "I may have to run another marathon after Mumbai to be considered for the Kenyan team. Right now though, my focus is Mumbai."

Ethiopia's Ayele Abshero, fastest man in the field with a personal best in Dubai in 2012 clocking 2:04:23, is making his Mumbai debut. Abshero said with a smile: "I am
concentrating on Mumbai. My coach said I should run here. I was a track runner earlier, but I will not return to track. I have also run cross country. Right now though it is all eyes on the Sunday race, I am not thinking beyond."

Alemu recalls last win

The women's field is led by defending champion Worknesh Alemu, who said her happiest memories of last year was, "all the people who supported me through the course to my win. I was surprised by my margin of victory, over one minute because at that time I was only thinking of posting a Personal Best."

When asked whether she was thinking about making the Tokyo Games team, Alemu said, "If I do not make it, I have another chance later. I am still young enough for other opportunities," finished the Ethiopian.

Same country, another stupendously talented runner Amane Beriso is in the field. She has run a 2:20:48 and is running a marathon after 15 months, sidelined because of a calf injury. "I have exercised and focussed on my strength, I have good power and feel strong for Sunday," said Beriso. The women's field has at least 10 runners under 2:30, which is the gold standard for women's running.

Timings and talk predict the elite fringe is 'hangry' which is a cocktail of, hungry and angry (in a good way) to go hell for leather to the finish line on Sunday. While nobody wanted to talk about a course record, it is evident that with slightly cooler weather, the record is at the back of minds.

The marathon has a first prize cheque of US$45,000 for both men and women with a US$15,000 bonus on offer for a course record.

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