AT A GLANCE / MARCH 2021

2021 NDM / Srinu Bugatha at the finish line (Photo: courtesy NEB Sports)

2021 New Delhi Marathon / Srinu Bugatha, Sudha Singh win

Elite runners Srinu Bugatha and Sudha Singh won the men’s and women’s race respectively at the Ageas Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon (NDM) 2021 held on March 7, 2021. However, both runners fell short of the qualifying mark for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games.

Srinu finished the marathon in two hours, 14 minutes and 58 seconds, a personal best (PB) according to published news reports, that was however short of both the Olympic qualification mark of 2:11:30 and the national record of 2:12:00. Shivnath’s Singh’s national record in the marathon was set way back in May 1978; it continues to daunt the best of Indian marathon runners. “ The race was good. I tried to go below 2:12 but in the end my wish was denied,’’ Srinu said, when contacted.

Sunday’s performance was after just three full marathons in Srinu’s career to date. According to him, the first big marathon he participated in was the 2018 Mumbai Marathon; two years later he won in the Indian elite men’s segment at the 2020 edition of the event. Roughly two months after that victory, India slipped into the lockdown caused by COVID-19. In the second half of 2020, as lockdown commenced easing, a trickle of road races trimmed to suit pandemic protocols, began to appear. At the 2020 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM), held in November last year as an elites-only physical race, Srinu had finished second. Thereafter, he had focused on preparations for the 2021 NDM. On February 8, 2021, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) formally informed that the performance of athletes at 2021 NDM would be considered for selection / participation in the Tokyo Olympics “ provided they achieve the qualifying standard as fixed by World Athletics.’’ With a PB to his credit but Olympic qualification not had at 2021 NDM, Srinu now plans to run at least one more race overseas for another shot at the task. He has time till end-May to qualify.

2021 NDM / Sudha Singh at the finish line (Photo: courtesy NEB Sports)

From among elite women at 2021 NDM, Sudha Singh (2:43:41) secured the first place. But her timing was short of the Olympic qualifying mark for women – 2:29:30 as well as the national record of 2:34:43 set by O.P. Jaisha in August 2015. At 2021 NDM, second position in the elite men’s category went to Nitendra Singh Rawat (2:18:54); Rashpal Singh (2:18:56) finished third. In the elite women’s segment, second place was secured by Jyoti Gawate (2:58:22) while Jigmet Dolma (3:04:51) placed third. “ My training was inadequate because of the pandemic and lockdown. After the 30 kilometer-mark, I started to feel tired,” Jyoti who hails Parbani in Maharashtra, said when contacted. Her next race is the 2021 Tata Mumbai Marathon, slated for end-May. Jigmet, who is from Ladakh, said that Sunday’s race was good overall but an error she committed in her pacing cost her the timing she had hoped for. “ The weather, route and facilities – everything was good. I had set a target of finishing in below three hours. The race required us to do two loops of the assigned route. Unfortunately, I was a bit slow in the first loop. Although I did the second loop at the correct pace, it wasn’t enough to make up for the timing I lost,’’ she said.

In the half marathon category at 2021 NDM, Amar Singh Devanda was the winner with timing of 1:13:58. In second position was Dhananjay Sharma (1:15:33); third place went to Sangh Priya Gautam (1:16:35). The podium finishers among women in this category were Jyoti Chauhan (1:20:57) in first place, Pooja (1:28:39) in second and Tashi Ladol (1:30:13), third.

In the open category of the full marathon, Nihal Baig won the men’s race with timing of 2:31:33 while Nupur Singh won the women’s race covering the distance in 3:03:17. In the men’s race, Manoj Yadav finished second with timing of 2:33:25; Pramod Chahar (2:33:55) finished third. In the women’s open category, Prachi Raju Godbole finished second with timing of 3:03:44; Disket Dolma (3:18:56) placed third. Nupur’s timing of 3:03:17 was her personal best, an improvement by seven minutes. “ My training was good except in the last one month. The training helped me to do well today. Also, last week I had a focused nutrition plan. That helped me during the race as well as in the post-race recovery,” Nupur said.

IAU & AFI 6-Hour Global Solidarity Run witnesses good performance by Indian ultra-runners

The IAU & AFI 6-Hour Global Solidarity Run was held as scheduled on March 21, 2021.

The virtual run saw some good performances from Indian ultra-runners.

Sampath Kumar Subramanian covered the maximum distance among Indian runners chosen to participate in the event. He covered a distance of 81.98 kilometers in the stipulated six hours.

Velu Perumal, who won the 24-hour category at the NEB Sports Stadium Run held at Bengaluru in January 2021, covered a distance of 76.69 km. Amar Singh Devanda, who secured a national best in 100 km at the Tuffman Chandigarh Stadium Run held earlier in March 2021, covered a distance of 74.04 km.

Among women, Preeti Lala, winner of the 24-hour NEB Sports Mumbai Stadium Run, covered the maximum distance of 60.52 km. Ashwini Ganapathi covered 53.14 km distance during the stipulated period. Aparna Choudhary covered 51.06 km during the six-hour period.

Running at their respective locations, the participants dedicated the run to ultra-runner L.L. Meena, who passed away on February 10, 2021.

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

BAA announces virtual Boston Marathon open to first 70,000 entrants

The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) has announced that it will offer a virtual Boston Marathon, open to everyone aged 18 or over, in celebration of the 125th Boston Marathon this fall. “ Held in addition to the in-person Boston Marathon scheduled for Monday, October 11, 2021, the virtual race will be open to the first 70,000 registrants,’’ a statement dated March 2, 2021, available on the event organizer’s website said.

“ We anticipate having a reduced field size for the in-person road race on Monday, October 11 but want to celebrate and honor the 125th running of the Boston Marathon through this virtual race,” Tom Grilk, President and CEO of BAA, was quoted as saying. “ For the first time in our history, most everyone will have the opportunity to earn a Unicorn finisher’s medal for every B.A.A. race in 2021—no matter whether they choose to walk or run,” he added. 

Registration for the virtual Boston Marathon will open through the BAA’s Athletes’ Village and will take place separately from the in-person registration. “ All participants will need to complete the marathon distance of 26.2 miles in one, continuous attempt in order to earn their Unicorn finisher’s medal, but will not be limited to any time restrictions. Participants in the virtual 125th Boston Marathon also will receive a virtual toolkit with an official bib number, champion’s breaktape, start and finish line, and more,’’ the statement said.

In 2020, 16,183 runners from nearly 90 countries and all 50 U.S. states had finished the Boston Marathon Virtual Experience.

According to the statement, field size for the in-person Boston Marathon, scheduled to take place on Monday, October 11, has not yet been finalized but will be smaller than previous years in order to enhance participant and public safety. “ The BAA will strive to achieve a field size composition as close to previous years as possible, with approximately 80% of the field being comprised of qualified entrants and 20% being comprised of invitational entries, including charity program runners. Details about the in-person race, including registration dates, COVID-19 safety measures, and participant requirements will be announced in the coming weeks,’’ it said.

(The authors, Latha Venkatraman and Shyam G Menon, are independent journalists based in Mumbai.)

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