Mumbai : Defending champion Rashpal Singh, of Army Sports Institute and last year’s runner-up Pankaj Dhaka from JSW will lead the field of 36 of the country’s top most long-distance male and female athletes in the 7th Indiabulls Home Loans Vasai Virar Mayors Marathon, in association with Cigna TTK, which will be flagged off from two different locations, in Virar and Vasai on Sunday, December 10.

 Joining the country’s leading distance runners will be around 18000 plus participants, among them 740 Full Marathoners; 4000 plus Half Marathoners and 2000 plus 11 km Runners. Running in their wake will be around 12000 plus athletes in the junior age group races, over 1.5 kms, 3 kms, 5 kms, 7 kms and 11 kms and the Dhamal Dhaav over 4 kms. Present to encourage the runners and raise their morale will be event ambassadors, Rahul Bose and Mandira Bedi.

 Organised by the Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation and the Vasai Taluka Kala Kreeda Vikas Mandal and promoted by Aryanz Sports PR & Events, the Indiabulls Home Loans Vasai Virar Mayor’s Marathon provides a prize fund in excess of Rs 40 lakh, which is the richest in the country for Indian athletes and amateur runners. It is also the only race in the country to have a special category called the “Battle Run”, a team event exclusive for running groups over the half marathon distance and 5 kms.

 The winner of the Full Marathon for men will stand to gain Rs 2.50 lakh, while the male and female winners of the Half Marathon will take home Rs 1.25 lakh each. There is an increase in the prize money for amateur runners as well in the different age groups.

Rashpal is in good form this year, having recorded his personal best of 2:20.23 at the National Marathon in Delhi. At the last edition of the Indiabulls Home Loans Vasai Virar Mayor’s Marathon, running a brave start-to-finish race, Rashpal clocked 2:22.04 to eclipse 28 seconds from fancied Kheta Ram’s record of 2:2.32 set in 2015.

The other fancied names in the full marathon are Jabalpur Armyman Sanaton Singh, who has a personal best of 2:20.11, ASI’s Bhram Prakash, who clocked 2:24.06 while winning the NSG Marathon in Delhi, Anu Sathyadas, winner of the Rourkee Marathon and G B Patle

The men’s half marathon will be spearheaded by Kalidas Hirave, who has a season’s best timing of 1:03.27, clocked while winning the BSF Half Marathon in Delhi. Also in the fray will be Pradeep Singh, Man Singh Govind Singh, besides Chandrakant Manwadhkar and Savhin Patil of the Railways.

 The women’s half marathon will also have a strong field and should see stiff competition between Swati Gadhave and Monika Atahare, who clocked 1:15.21 and 11:15.36 at ADHM 2017. The other strong contenders are Monika Raut, Meenakshi Patil and Manisha Salunkhe.

 The event will also see participation from senior police officials, among them, Anup Kumar Singh, IPS, Special IG (Maharashtra), Manjunath Singe, IPS, SP (Palghar), Namrata Patil (SPS), Add. SP (NIA), Maya Patole (Deputy Collector), Jayant Bajbale DYSP (Palghar) and Satish Devkate, DDR. Besides these, 12 participants from NIA and 8 from the ACB, Mumbai will also be seen in action.

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