Mumbai, IndiaJulius Sugut of Kenya who had finished runner-up last year went one better and took the men’s title, as marathon runners from 25 nations lived up to the “Spirit of Mumbai” slogan in the 2nd Standard Chartered Mumbai International Marathon here this morning (Sun 16).
Mulu Seboka of Ethiopia took the top spot in the women’s division of the Marathon race, while Kenyan Tegla Loroupe won the Half Marathon. Indian men swept the first three places in the men’s half distance.
Men – Sugut breaks field after 30km
Kenyan pace-setters Michael Kemboi, Erik Kiplagat and Simon Tanui were the front runners at the beginning of the race from the historic Victoria Terminus (now renamed as Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus). Tanui ran the first half very well with lead times of 45:16 for 14.1 km at Queen’s Neclace in Marine Drive, and 74:04 for 23.3 km turning point at Bandra Reclamation. Tanzanian Christopher Isegwe was caught up with the leader at this point.
The race matched the increasing tempretaures turning hot as it reached the 25km point. Here the Ethiopian Gashaw Malese put in a kick but it was not enough and five kilometres (30km) later Julius Sugut overtook him. Sugut, runner-up at last year’s race at Mumbai, was timed at 1:42:13 at 32.5km mark had made the decisive move of the race to which no one could respond.
Sugut arrived at the finish line at the historic Azad Maidan in 2:13:20 to receive USD 30,000 in prize money. Isegwe (2:13:29) and Malese (2:13:59) finished behind Sugut in that order to gain USD 20,000 and USD 12,500 for their efforts. Incidentally Sugut’s time is the second fastest mark set on a certified course anywhere on Indian soil.
Balaram of India finished 28th overall was also awarded a special prize as top Indian finisher.
Last year’s winner here, Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa, who went on to win the New York Marathon later in 2004, did not compete at Mumbai this time.
Women – Seboka falters and then recovers to win in PB
In the women’s race Kenyan Pauline Wangui was the early leader. Ethiopian Leila Aman, who placed 5th in last year’s Berlin Marathon, went past Wangui at the turning point in 23.3 km (1:24:54), closely followed by compatriot Mulu Seboka and Russian Madina.
Seboka was struggling at 30km and Aman took advantage of her opponent's weakness to break away from the bunch to lead the event for the next 5kms. But Seboka, 21-years-old, did not give up and maintained her pace till she bravely caught the leader in the final part of the race. At the end she was a clear winner with a personal best timing of 2:35:03, well ahead of compatriot Aman (2:36:19) and Russia’s Irina Timofeyeva (2:36:42).
Half Marathon - Loroupe stars
In the men’s Half Marathon race, Indians took the top three spots with Deepchand the winner at 67:11 followed by Jagannath Lakade (67:57) and Nagendra Rao (68:20).
Former three-time World Half Marathon champion Tegla Loroupe of Kenya won the women’s event in a modest time of 78:50, followed by Indians Madhuri Gurnule (81:59) and Hemkumari Goswami (86:02).
Past Champions and VIPs promote running
Apart from the full and half marathon races, several charity races were also conducted concurrently for disabled athletes, veterans and general public to participate and to raise funds, as much as 50 million Indian Rupees, for various causes.
British Olympians Steve Ovett (now living in Australia) and Linford Christie had come all the way to promote and popularise the sport among the local population which saw over 25,000 participants from all walks of life participate in the “Spirit of Mumbai”.
Also present were VIP’s such as Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, IAAF Council Member and Athletic Federation of India President, Mr. Sunil Dutt, Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs, Cricketers Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar, Hindi filmstars Amitabh Bachan, Salman Khan, and World Long Jump bronze medalist Anju Bobby George and others.
The Mumbai marathon is now an integral part of the Standard Chartered four elite marathons with Nairobi, Singapore and Hong Kong, to have huge total prize of USD 1,245,000 for top scoring individuals and the national team challenge.
The success of Mumbai has also motivated a number other Indian cities to promote their own marathons with Bangalore going to have its first International race on April 24 while Hyderabad is yet to finalise a date. If this trend continues, India will sooner become an important destination for marathoners from all over the World.
Ram. Murali Krishnan for the IAAF