2020 TATA MUMBAI MARATHON / LAGAT, ALEMU SET TO RETURN

Flashback: elite runners at the 2019 edition of Tata Mumbai Marathon (Photo: by arrangement)

Defending champions Cosmas Lagat and Worknesh Alemu will be back for the Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM), due January 19, 2020, a report dated January 4, available on the website of World Athletics (formerly IAAF), said.

In 2019, Kenya’s Lagat, breaking away from the rest of the pack at around kilometer 29 and running alone for almost a third of the race, had won in 2:09:15, the second fastest winning time in Mumbai. It was just 40 seconds outside the course record of 2:08:35, set by his compatriot Gideon Kipketer in 2016, the report said. To date only one man has won TMM back-to- back; Kenyan runner John Kelai did that with victories in 2007 and 2008.

According to the report, for the 2020 edition of the race, TMM organizers have signed up no less than 14 men who have run faster than 2:10:00, “ making it the strongest marathon ever to be staged in India.’’ Of them, 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 (PB) from eight years back at the Dubai Marathon, of 2:04:23.

Ethiopia’s Alemu had won in the women’s category at TMM in 2019 with a PB of 2:25:25, which was also the second fastest winning time in the race’s history. She subsequently improved her best to 2:24:42 later in 2019 when finishing sixth at the Amsterdam Marathon in October, the report said. In 2020, Alemu heads a very strong women’s field that has eight women who have run under 2:28:00. The fastest woman in the field is another Ethiopian, Amane Beriso, who clocked 2:20:48 for a second place finish in the 2016 Dubai Marathon, placing her third on that year’s world list. She took a break from competitive running last year. The course record at TMM for women is 2:24:33, set by Kenya’s Valentine Kipketer in 2013.

In addition to the marathon – which has a total prize fund of US$ 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). About 50,000 runners are expected to take part, the report said.

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)