Mumbai: Defending champions Cosmas Lagat and Worknesh Alemu will return to the Tata Mumbai Marathon to defend their titles at the prestigious IAAF Gold Label Road Race which is set to be the strongest marathon ever to be staged in the country.
The marathon, which will be held in Mumbai on 19 January, will feature 14 men who have run faster than 2:10:00, making it the strongest marathon ever in India.
Lagat will be aiming to become just the second man to win back-to-back Mumbai Marathon titles in the race's 17-year history, following in the footsteps of fellow Kenyan John Kelai who won in 2007 and 2008.
Of those men, nine have run faster than the course record during their careers and six have run under the super-elite benchmark of 2:07:00.
The four fastest men in the field are all Ethiopians, led by Ayele Abshero who has a personal best of 2:04:23.
Lagat won last year in decisive fashion when he broke away from the rest of the leading pack around 29 kms into the race. The Kenyan was out on his own over the final 13km, almost a third of the race, before crossing the line.
Having come home just 40 seconds outside the course record of 2:08:35, set by his compatriot Gideon Kipketer in 2016, Lagat will be back on the start line motivated not only by the possibility of pocketing another $45,000 first prize cheque but also the $15,000 on offer for a course record.
"My Mumbai Marathon win was my best race of 2019 so I have fond memories of running in India, and the experience I got running this race last year will be very important this time. Coming so close to the course record, I have thought about what I can do to improve, and I think I can run the first half of the race faster than I did last year," Lagat said.
Like Lagat, Ethiopia's Alemu upset the pre-race form book in 2019 and won in Mumbai with a personal best of 2:25:25, which was also the second fastest winning time in the Marathon's history.
Alemu will head a very strong field that has eight women who have run under 2:28:00.
Among the fastest women in the field is another Ethiopian, Amane Beriso, who had a stunning marathon debut when she ran 2:20:48 for second place in the 2016 Dubai Marathon, which placed her third on that year's world list.
Approximately 50,000 runners will take to the roads in Mumbai for six different races in what has become a traditional annual event in the city on the third Sunday of January.
In addition to the marathon, which has a total prize fund of $405,000, there is a half marathon, a 10km race, a Dream Run (5.9km), Senior Citizens Race (4.2km) and a Champions with Disability Race (1.5km).
"This is the 17th edition of the Tata Mumbai Marathon and we have been setting new standards for marathons, ever since the very first event in 2004. However, this year I think we have put together the strongest marathon field ever seen in India and that makes us all very proud," said Vivek Singh, Joint Managing Director of Procam International.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
Updated Date: Jan 04, 2020 16:43:36 IST