Mumbai: It all depends on the race of the day, is the general opinion of the champions who would rub shoulders for top honours, as the stage is all set for the Tata Mumbai Marathon, which is to be flagged off from the CST in the early hours on Sunday. Ethiopian runners took both the men’s and women’s Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM) titles 12 months ago and pre-race favourites Abera Kuma and Amane Gobena sounded confident that the top honours in the City of Dreams will stay with athletes from the East African nation this coming Sunday. “We are here to win the race and later on the race day you will hear, said Kuma who also has his wife taking part in the event, and has the fastest man in the field with his 2:05:50 personal best set in Rotterdam Marathon last April. “I have been training very well again and I feel I can run faster than that time,” said Kuma while talking to The Free Press Journal on the sidelines of the pre-race press conference on Friday. “Maybe it will be difficult to run as quickly as that here, but I am in good shape.”
Yes, there could be someone and he could also be my best friend, said Kuma. While adding that he has put behind him the disappointments of failing to finish in both the Berlin and Abu Dhabi Marathons. The quietly-spoken Kuma, whose younger sister Dibaba Kuma, was an impressive winner at the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K last month, hinted that in addition to the USD $45,000 first prize cheque he was hoping to pocket an additional USD $15,000 for setting a TMM course record, which currently stands at 2:08:35 by Kenya’s Gideon Kipketer in 2016. His compatriot Amane Gobena knows what it takes to win in Mumbai after having triumphed at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race, and one of Asia’s leading marathons, in 2018. Gobena is not only the defending champion but will also be the fastest woman on the TMM 2019 start line opposite the famous and iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. “I enjoyed last year’s race a lot and I’ve been looking forward to coming back here. I may be 36 but I am still running well, and my legs feels a lot younger,” she joked. “It has to help that I raced here last year. Experience is so important in the marathon and that includes experience of the races where you run,” added the amiable Gobena, who gave the impression of being very relaxed on Friday.
India’s leading finishers from 2018, Gopi Thonakal and Sudha Singh, were also confident. The pair finished 11th and 7th respectively in the last edition of the contest. “I’ve got my own pacers so I’m not only looking to break the Indian course record (2:15:48) but also my personal best (2:15:16),” said the Indian soldier. Singh, the Indian 3000m steeplechase and half marathon record holder has the target of running under 2:37:00, which would not only be an IAAF World Championships Doha 2019 qualifying standard but also a TMM Indian best. “I had a good year on the track in 2018 (she was part of Team Asia-Pacific at the IAAF Continental Cup) but my marathon and half marathon was not as good as previous years and I want to improve again,” said Singh.
‘We are privileged’
“I am sure if the Kenyan or the Ethiopian athletes get the facilities we (Indians) get they would rule the world,” said Sudha Singh while talking about the foreign athletes facilities. We have attended camps in Kenya, it is just a room which is small for one person, and that is all they have. While we here in India stay in hotels and attend the camp,” added Singh who is looking to make use of this Mumbai Marathon and achieve the 2:37.00 timing which is a qualifying time for the world championship. Yes, that is my first goal, and I will give my best,” she said. Comparing this marathon to other cities’ same event, she said that Mumbai route is of ups and downs, and as the race proceeds, the climate could take it toll, apart from these, this event is one of the best,” she said about the Mumbai marathon.
KMOIN WAHLANG: Oldest women runner in 42K marathon
Kmoin Wahlang, a 71-year-old marathoner from Meghalaya, is participating the 42K run in the 16th edition of Tata Mumbai Marathon. She has previously participated in various runs in Shillong itself. Tata Mumbai Marathon will be her 1st marathon outside Shillong. She has participated in marathons like SWARA Marathon, Guwahati Pinkathon, and SBI Green Marathon. She successfully completed 45K run in the Mawkyrwat Ultra Marathon.
Mahadev Samjiskar: 76-year-old to run half marathon
Mahadev Samjiskar started running when he was 62 years old. Currently, he is 76 years old and began running seriously from Mumbai Marathon (2004) and continues to run various marathons internationally. This year, he will participate in Tata Mumbai Marathon in the half marathon category (21 km) with the same enthusiasm, targeting to complete in 2 hours.
BYHAHALLI JANARDAN: 86-year-old to run 42K
Byhahalli Janardan, an 86-year-old cyclist, trekker, and runner is the oldest runner in the Men’s category in the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019. His journey as an athlete started at the age of 64. Janardan was diagnosed with Epilepsy that changed his life. In 1977, Janardan took his bicycle and cycled for around 40km. He is running the Tata Mumbai Marathon for the second time.
Tata Mumbai Marathon has made slight changes in the route and finish lines across categories. The starting point of the half marathon and police cup race is Worli Dairy while races in all other categories will start from CST. The finishing point for amateurs, half marathon, police cup and open 10K run is Hazarimal Somani Marg. While the Marathon Elite Race will end at CST, the race for champions with disability (1.5 km) will finish on MG Road near traffic police chowki and the senior citizens and dream run (6 km) will finish at the Metro. Over 46,000 runners are taking part. Medical arrangements include 600 personnel on duty, eight medic bikes and 11 ambulances en route and 12 medical stations.The first race of the day, marathon of amateurs, will start at 5.30 am and cover 42 km.