TATA Mumbai Marathon 2024 Gears Up For Epic Showdown With Ethiopian Elite Taking Centre-Stage

TATA Mumbai Marathon 2024 Gears Up For Epic Showdown With Ethiopian Elite Taking Centre-Stage

This edition of the championship promises to be dominated by Ethiopian runners who will take centre stage in the battle for glory.

Joe WilliamsUpdated: Saturday, January 20, 2024, 06:11 PM IST
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The stage is set for an epic clash as elite runners from around the globe, including top-notch Indian athletes, prepare to vie for supremacy in the 19th Tata Mumbai Marathon. The starting gun will echo from CST in the early hours of Sunday, setting the scene for an exhilarating showdown.

Ethiopian Dominance Takes Center Stage

This edition of the championship promises to be dominated by Ethiopian runners who will take centre stage in the battle for glory. Defending champions Hayle Lemi Berhanu and Anchialem Haymanot are bracing themselves for a formidable challenge from their compatriots, Kinde Atanaw and Sofia Assefa, creating an electrifying competition in the World Athletics Gold Label Road Race.

Men's Elite: Atanaw vs. Lemi Berhanu

While previous timing records provide a glimpse into the favoured runners, the ultimate outcome hinges on how well they synchronise with the rhythm of the Mumbai roads. At the forefront of the elite men's group is thirty-year-old Kinde Atanaw from Ethiopia, boasting a personal best time of 2:03:51 set four years ago in Valencia. Having participated in this mega event in 2013, Atanaw is determined to clinch a significant victory this time around.

His compatriot and defending champion, Lemi Berhanu, is set to pose a serious challenge. Displaying remarkable form with a recent fifth-place finish and an impressive time of 2:05:48 in Amsterdam, Lemi brings a wealth of marathon experience, making him a formidable contender in navigating the race dynamics effectively.

Women's Elite: Assefa, Bekele, and Defending Champ Haymanot

In the women's category, the seasoned Sofia Assefa, aged 36, and a former World and Olympic steeplechase medalist, emerges as the dark horse to watch. Having completed her maiden marathon in Amsterdam three months ago, Assefa showcased her potential with an outstanding debut time of 2:23:33, surpassing her teammate Anchialem Haymanot. Anchialem, the defending women's champion, aims to build on her past success in Mumbai, securing her marathon debut victory last year with a time of 2:24:15.

Adding to the intrigue in the women's competition is Tadelech Bekele (32), credited with the fastest time of 2:21:40 and a bronze position in London in 2018. Making a comeback after a four-year hiatus, Bekele injects further excitement into the event. The battle lines are drawn, and the 19th Tata Mumbai Marathon promises an enthralling spectacle as these elite runners chase glory on the vibrant streets of Mumbai.

Indian Contenders Eyeing Triumph

Indians challenge will be spearheaded by T Gopi is gearing up for his next two marathons with a keen focus on this event, his favoured race. Expressing his aspirations, he states, “I will aim for the course record at Tata Mumbai Marathon; my preparations at the Sports Authority of India complex in Bengaluru have been promising. The temperatures were high there, and Mumbai is hotter than last year, so I don't know what to expect.” Having clocked 2:14:58 at the TCS Amsterdam Marathon last year, he enters Mumbai with the hope of finding his form.

For Paris 2024, the direct qualification time in the men's marathon is 2:08. Gopi, with a personal best of 2:13:39 at the Seoul Marathon in 2022, is looking to secure qualification via the average route. He explains, “Runners who don’t qualify automatically have the option to average the best five race timings. I feel a time of 2:12 will be needed at Mumbai or in the two upcoming races for making the grade, one in India and one abroad.”

Other Indian men in the fray include Srinu Bugatha (PB 2:14:59, New Delhi Marathon 2021) and Kalidas Hirve. The Indian elite winners stand a chance to win Rs 500,000 each for the champion in the men's and women’s categories, down to the seventh position.

In the women’s marathon, notable names include Jigme Dolma, Aarti Patil, and Nirmaben Thakor. Leh runner Jigmat, training in high altitude at home, is relying on endurance for a stellar performance.

Words of Wisdom from Elite Runners

Nima emphasises a belief in oneself, saying, “Women don’t believe in themselves. The thought that they can't do it is stuck in their minds. Once people start believing in themselves, anything is achievable.”

Reflecting on ethics, Kalidas, the second runner-up at TMM 2023, sends a message to amateur distance runners aiming for places and prize money. He advises, “I get queries from young runners on social media about quick-fix solutions to winning races. My advice is to avoid short-cut methods and pay attention to continuous training, rest, and recovery. Amateur runners should listen to their coach instead of getting swayed by shortcuts. There is no shortcut in long-distance running.”

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