Mumbai: Kenyan athlete Levy Matebo will be the fastest man on the starting line at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2017 after the late withdrawal of Ayele Abshero.
In addition to eyeing the $42,000 first prize in country's richest road race, he will also be chasing the $15,000 bonus on offer if the course record of 2:08:35, set last year by Matebo's compatriot Gideon Kipketer, is broken.
"I want to see the course first and then I will plan my race but yes, I am aiming for course record," he told reporters in Mumbai.
"In my last race (the Ljubljana Marathon in October) I was going for a fast time but the police car and TV van went off course about 600 metres from the finish and we followed them. I still finished third (in 2:09:37) but I was maybe two minutes slower than I could have finished so if I run under 2:08 on Sunday, I will be very happy," he added.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia's Dinkesh Mekesh, a two-time former Mumbai Marathon winner in women's category, is looking to cross the finish line at the number one position for the third time.
"My preparation went well. I don't have any problem and it is my fifth time in Mumbai. I hope I can win this race," said Mekesh.
She also said that since she has won the race couple of times, she knows the course and also knows what to do.
"I never thing such kind of things and in the future I will think about this," she said when asked whether she should run more half-marathons.
Mekesh won the Mumbai Marathon in 2013 by clocking a time of 2:28:46 and then was victorious again in 2014 when she clocked 2:28:08.
The athletes said that she practised in cold weather in Ethiopia and if the temperatures remain low it will aid her.
The other elite athlete in the Men's Marathon is another Ethiopian Seboka Dibabam, who was also present at the media conference.
"My aim is to run better than last year. Last year was my first time in Mumbai so the now I know the course better," he said.
Abshero withdrew from the race earlier this week due to a re-occurrence of a minor back injury which had caused him problems during the last few months of 2016.
Updated Date: Jan 13, 2017 11:23:12 IST