Uganda’s Victor Kiplangat took gold in the men’s marathon at the 2022 Commonwealth Games (CWG) being held at Birmingham, UK.
The first Ugandan to win the CWG marathon, he covered the distance in two hours, 10 minutes and 55 seconds, a report on world-track.org said. Silver went to Alphonce Felix Simbu (2:12:29) of Tanzania and the bronze to Kenya’s Michael Mugo Githae (2:13:16).
India’s Nitendra Singh Rawat finished in twelfth position. He covered the distance in 2:19:22.
Despite Kenya participating, there was no Eliud Kipchoge (he holds the world record – 2:01:39) or anyone in that league, at Birmingham. Defending CWG champion, Michael Shelley of Australia (PB – 2:11:15) was also absent given he retired in 2019. He was CWG champion in 2014 (Glasgow) and 2018 (Gold Coast). It was therefore a modestly sized field – 19 runners – on Saturday (July 30) with equally modest personal bests. But it was a competitive field with athletes having PBs not significantly spaced from each other, promising thus a good contest.
Within minutes of the race starting, Liam Adams of Australia shot off into the lead with a group of about half a dozen in pursuit. Coming into the race, Adams had a PB from March 2020, of 2:10:48 according to data available on the website of World Athletics. As the first half hour went by, the chasing group split into two with two Tanzanian runners including Simbu (PB – 2:06:20), ahead of the remaining three, which included Kiplangat (PB – 2:05:09) and Kenya’s Jonathan Kipleting Korir (PB – 2:04:32).
The 15K mark went by with Adams still in the lead; he covered it in 46:03, which if sustained, pointed to a potential sub-2:10 finish. According to Wikipedia, the CWG record in the men’s marathon was set in 1974 at Christchurch, New Zealand, by Ian Thompson of England; he had a timing of 2:09:12, which was also a PB. It makes the unbroken CWG record four years older than the unbroken Indian national record in the men’s marathon set by Shivnath Singh in 1978; he covered the distance in 2:12:00.
Past the 15K-mark at Birmingham, Nitendra Singh Rawat was in fifteenth place. As per updates on the website of Sportstar, he moved up to twelfth spot after 30 kilometres in the race. Liam Adams, race leader in the initial phase, finished a creditable fourth with timing of 2:13:23. Korir wrapped up the top five, covering the distance in 2:14:06, world-track.org said. According to the website, past 30 kilometres, Kiplangat and Simbu were evenly matched but the Ugandan runner managed to increase his pace and open up a lead. It was a lead that was sufficiently big for him to correct a wrong path he took late in the race without compromising his position in the final results.
(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)
July 2022. It’s a couple of weeks after the year’s RAAM. There was a change in the tenor of Kabir’s talk. Two successful finishes later, there was now mention of competing to win.
Riders from India would fare better at Race Across America (RAAM) if they acquire familiarity with the challenges posed, become better supported and progressively hit from the front foot instead of the backfoot as they normally do, Kabir Rachure, among India’s leading ultra-cyclists and a two time-finisher of RAAM, said.
In June 2022, Kabir successfully completed RAAM for a second time (11 days, 11 hours and 25 minutes); he also placed third in his age category. He plans to return to RAAM in 2024 and when that happens, he would like to cycle faster and approach the race with a view to win. The Navi Mumbai-based cyclist explained his reasons for the changed perspective.
To begin with, he had come off the experience of 2019 – when he finished RAAM in 11 days, 22 hours and 43 minutes – resolved to attempt it again. He felt there was ample scope to improve. In 2019, he didn’t have well developed strategies for nutrition and rest. “ I didn’t follow a proper sleep pattern,’’ he said. Early on in the race, the heat of Arizona took its toll. Despite training for the event, he had found himself progressively exhausted, experiencing a hazy view of the proceedings and unable to recall in detail, sections of the 3000 mile-route, he pedaled through. Further, in a race wherein rider tackles challenges in partnership with the support crew, there were some deficiencies in the latter. “ We took it lightly. Everyone wasn’t at 100 per cent. The correct balance wasn’t there. In 2019, although we completed the race, I wasn’t satisfied with our performance,’’ Kabir said. The team was determined that their next outing at RAAM should be with the required improvements, addressed.
Once you have been a finisher at RAAM, cyclist is lifetime-qualified to participate in the race. Kabir has this privilege, courtesy 2019. His idea was to go back to RAAM in 2020 but that year the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team would have gone back in 2021 but there were too many variables in the air, ranging from vaccination to quarantine conditions; not to mention – all preparations going for a toss should infection strike just before or during the race. For cyclist from India, each attempt entails a sizable financial investment. Given such uncertainty, Kabir and his team decided not to participate. There was also another reason. Kabir wished for a decently strong field; he wanted RAAM to be an instance of competing with the best and competing with many. In 2021, with the world only beginning to emerge from the shadow of pandemic, strong line-ups were hard to come by in races. The goal therefore was, 2022.
In 2021, there was a virtual RAAM, which riders could participate in from anywhere in the world as long as they had Wi-Fi and trainers capable of hosting apps for competing digitally. Kabir didn’t take part in this. He felt, RAAM’s digital version wouldn’t be a complete substitute for the actual experience of the race. In the real world, cycling at RAAM includes challenges like mountain sections, the heat of Arizona, the weather conditions of Kansas, the punishing hours on the saddle, the sleep deprivation and the support crew actively working with rider to keep the journey going. The digital version, in comparison, featured limited sections of RAAM repeated like a loop. All of it executed from a room where support was easily accessed. “ The main challenge in virtual RAAM concerns being on a trainer – it restricts the natural variety of body movements possible in real world cycling. This lack of variety in movement, is tough on the body. It can be hard on your knees,’’ Kabir said.
For 2022 RAAM, Kabir dipped into his 2019 experience and trained differently. There was a time when he thought – like many did and continue to – that success in ultra-cycling events requires hours and hours of training piled on in the preparatory phase. With RAAM done in 2019 and an idea of what to improve had, Kabir structured his training for 2022 around quality, not quantity. “ This time around for RAAM, I trained 8-12 hours per week,’’ he said. He did the bulk of that indoors. He avoided some of the popular temptations in Indian cycling. “ I won’t say that if you do K2K (Kashmir to Kanyakumari) or the Golden Quadrilateral, you can complete RAAM. After the initial portion of K2K, the route is mostly flat. The only thing that is tough in K2K, is the traffic,’’ he said. RAAM in contrast, features varying topography and weather patterns. It doesn’t let you settle into one paradigm. “ RAAM is a different beast,’’ Kabir said.
Among the changes effected in training for 2022, the most significant one was that weekly total of 8-12 hours. “ Somewhere along the way, I have crushed the myth that you must train 25-30 hours per week,’’ he said, highlighting the importance of balancing training and recovery. However, Kabir admitted that he could shift more towards quality because he had the quantity already in place (thanks to many ultra-races and training for it, done) with one outing at RAAM to boot. For those new to ultra-cycling, he said, he would want long rides done because they help the rider know his / her body better. But the mileage must be ramped up carefully; slowly and steadily. “ I don’t want anyone hurting themselves,’’ Kabir said. In his case, years of cycling has ensured a litany of long rides done and with an idea of how his body behaves now in place, he could afford to trade quantity for quality in the run up to 2022 RAAM.
Roughly two months before RAAM, in April 2022, Kabir shifted to the high-altitude environment of Ladakh. From April 20 to May 20, he trained there. He cycled some 1200-1500 kilometres there including a dash up to Khardung La from Leh in less than three hours (two hours and 40 minutes according to him). Then, returning to Mumbai he flew out to the US on June 1 with about a fortnight left for the year’s RAAM to start. The benefits of training at altitude are well-known. Although many people believe that the rub-off effects of altitude, stay with the individual only for a few weeks, Kabir says that in his experience, right nutrition (essentially iron in one’s diet) can help prolong the benefits. The learnings from 2019 RAAM combined with a modified training regimen ensured that Kabir commenced 2022 RAAM in a strong frame of body and mind.
A notable absentee at 2022 RAAM was Christof Strasser. For years, the Austrian ultra-cyclist with multiple wins at RAAM to his credit, had been a regular participant. “ RAAM without Strasser does not feel the same,’’ Kabir said. Endurance cyclists like Christof Strasser and Marko Baloh (Kabir now has Marko’s signature preserved on his bike) have the capability to go into an attack mode compared to the defensive mindset of Indian riders. Kabir traces this attitude found overseas, to a state of being well supported and having nothing to lose. To illustrate it in simple terms, he quoted the example of Formula One. If someone participated with a car they bought with their own money, would they drive as aggressively as a Lewis Hamilton backed by Mercedes and enjoying a supply of cars from the company? When you have someone backing you and you are told to focus on your performance, you will perform better than if you were on our own, Kabir said. As luck would have it, for his 2022 RAAM attempt, two sponsors came aboard – Spiegel Bikes and Ultrahuman. He could therefore afford to imagine a bit differently. Face RAAM with a semblance of nothing-to-lose. Still the race threw up challenges.
Kabir brought with him to the US, four bikes for use in RAAM. He kept a time trial bike with aggressive geometry to cycle through Arizona. Although Arizona felt less warm than in 2019, there was no escaping the buckets of sweat the heat triggered. Kabir developed a terrible saddle-sore following which, the fast TT bike had to be given up. Any more time on it would have seriously endangered his prospects in the race. He ended up using a Spiegel San Merino for around 2700 kilometres and two models of Lapierre (including a Pulsium, which is a comfortable endurance bike) for 1600-1800 kilometres. If reworking the bicycle mix was an early challenge, then the wind in Kansas posed its own set of hardships later. A powerful headwind made cycling through Kansas difficult. At other times, crosswinds kept the bicycle constantly at a tilt and difficult to steer with one hand. It rendered periodic engagements with the support car (while still pedaling) for hydration and nutrition, tough to handle. One nasty fall and Kabir could end up retired from the race. But aside from these challenges, the race went off smoothly. He experienced little of the abject exhaustion he had felt in 2019. He finished RAAM in better time and better shape than in 2019; he also got a podium position in his age category. Upon examining the videos of others who finished ahead of him in 2022 and seeing the state they were in; Kabir feels he can push harder. He thinks he can match those performances. They are within achievable distance. In 2022 there was much energy he held in reserve. In retrospect, it was good; it helped him finish comfortably. But it would be a shame not to explore tapping that reserve. Maybe there is room to push further and discover another reserve beyond? A new perspective has taken root.
Kabir will return to RAAM next in 2024. In the immediate aftermath of 2022 RAAM, he thinks a bit of rest is in order as his body is craving for it. The purse also takes some time to recuperate. As he put it, expensive multi-day races like RAAM resemble sugarcane cultivation. Sugarcane needs a lot of water and once the water in the well has been used up, it takes time for it to replenish before another season of cultivation is possible. Same holds true for RAAM, rider and money. Until the purse is replenished, aspirations must stay modest. In November 2022, he will participate in the 24 hour-time trial slated to take place in Borrego Springs, Arizona. If all goes well, he will do a six hour-time trial as well. In 2023, he plans to try Race Around Austria. And in 2024, when RAAM looms afresh on his calendar, the best weapon in his armoury may lay in this observation post-2022 RAAM: “ I feel I have unlocked myself in some way.’’ According to him, it is like having battled some monster and suffered a great deal but also gained a lot.
His sister, Sapana who oversees Kabir’s support crew is also not resting on the better performance of the team at 2022 RAAM. With Kabir now talking of winning, she is aware of what lay ahead. According to her, Kabir currently has a pool of around 12 people to pick and choose from, for each competition he goes into. They are known well to him and given the number of races they have attended with him, are aware of Kabir’s requirements. Together, they cover a spectrum of support services ranging from driving the crew car to navigation to nutrition to physiotherapy and bicycle maintenance. Some are good for short races; some for longer ones. “ This time at RAAM, we were all on the same page,’’ Sapana said. Had it not been for the wind in Kansas, the time taken to complete would have been less. Sapana knows that in ultra-cycling competitions like RAAM, wherein rider and support crew must pull together, every additional effort Kabir puts in to improve must be matched on the crew side too. “ We plan to use the same people for the rides ahead. The two years to 2024 is good enough time to improve further,’’ she said.
As regards training ground for ultra-cycling, Kabir thinks that India is a fantastic place to train given the range of topography it has, including the Himalaya. Some states and union territories have a better mix in this regard – Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Ladakh; and in terms of cities sporting such variety – Bengaluru, Pune, Nashik and Navi Mumbai. But as ever in India, in all these places there is a killjoy snapping at cycling’s heels – the explosive growth of automobile traffic.
(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai. This article is mostly based on a conversation with Kabir at Kharghar, Navi Mumbai in July 2022.)
Defending champion Anderson Peters of Grenada, dominated the javelin throw final at the 2022 World Athletics Championship, securing the gold medal with a tremendous display that saw three of his throws land in 90m-territory.
His best throw from the final measured 90.54m.
Olympic gold medallist, Neeraj Chopra, settled for silver with a best throw of 88.13m. Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic won the bronze medal; his best throw measured 88.09m. As per the competition commentary, Neeraj had come into the world championship yet to reach his best form but happy that he was beginning to find his groove. News reports following the final in Eugene, Oregon, USA, quoted the Indian athlete saying that he would try to do better at the next world championship due in Budapest in 2023.
Indian athlete, Rohit Yadav, who too had qualified for the javelin throw final finished in tenth place with a best throw of 78.72m. Media reports said, many of the Indian athletes who participated in the world championship will now move to UK for the 2022 Commonwealth Games scheduled to take place in Birmingham over July 28-August 8. A sizable Indian team is expected there.
In an excellent article (dated July 24, 2022) that summarizes the ascent of Anderson Peters and also offers insight into his rivalry with Neeraj Chopra, Nihal Koshie of Indian Express writes, “ The 2016 Under-20 World Championships in Poland is where Neeraj Chopra and Grenada’s Anderson Peters had their first big showdown. This was two years before Peters, who has studied in the United States since 2017, threw 81.95 metres to break the Mississippi State’s freshman record. At the Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak Stadium, Chopra became the junior world champion and an overnight star. His 86.48 metres was a world junior record. Johan Grobler (80.59m) of South Africa was second and third, almost unnoticed in the frenzy in India, was Peters (79.65m). Peters had set a national under-20 mark but back then Chopra was anointed as the future star.’’
India’s Rohit Yadav has made it to the final of the javelin throw competition at the 2022 World Athletics Championship in Eugene, Oregon, USA. In the Group B qualification round, he achieved a distance of 80.42m, sufficient to place eleventh in the list of 12 athletes from Groups A and B, eligible for the final.
In Group A, Neeraj Chopra, the country’s strongest athlete in the discipline, qualified for the final with an impressive throw of 88.39m. He placed second on the list of finalists headed by Anderson Peters of Grenada who managed 89.91m. As per media reports, the qualifying mark was 83.50m; in results published, four out of the 12 athletes making it to the final, had throws exceeding the qualifying mark. The best 12 throws in the qualifying round ranged from 80.03m to 89.91m.
Rohit, 21 (age as per data on the website of World Athletics), is the son of Sabhajeet Yadav, well-known amateur runner. A farmer from Dabhiya village in Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, Sabhajeet has several podium-finishes at city marathons to his credit. “ We are so happy that Rohit has made it to the final. He will get a chance to compete with leading athletes,” Sabhajeet said when contacted.
“ We woke up at 4 AM to watch the event on television. All of us, my wife, my two other sons and several boys from the village have been here since morning. We are quite thrilled,” he said, adding Rohit’s trip to Oregon for the world championship will be a valuable experience. Rohit is scheduled to participate in the 2022 Commonwealth Games as well.
The world of amateur running has played a role in Rohit’s ascent. Given income from farming is rarely steady and adequate, Sabhajeet participated in amateur marathons to augment his family’s resources. He won consistently in his age category and the prize money helped. During the annual Mumbai Marathon, he acquired a reputation for reaching the city by train, sleeping at the railway station, waking up in the morning, competing in the marathon and going back to his village, a place on the podium earned. The tough farmer was soon noticed by other amateur runners who rallied to his support. Foremost among them, was businessman, Bhasker Desai.
Bhasker learnt of Rohit’s interest in the javelin throw, the promise he showed in the discipline and his training in Sabhajeet’s village with a home-made javelin. As Rohit moved up in performance and ranking, Bhasker funded the purchase of a top-notch, imported javelin for the young athlete to train with. “ This is a major high for me,’’ Bhasker said when asked of the athlete he supported reaching the world championship final. While he may have helped purchase a new javelin, Bhasker maintained that the credit for Rohit’s ascent should go to the athlete and his father. According to him, Sabhajeet has never wavered in his belief that Rohit would one day be at the Olympics. Equally important, Bhasker said, has been the role played by Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra. Rohit looks up to Neeraj as his mentor and the senior athlete’s presence has helped Rohit endure the competitive ambiance at major championships like the one currently on at Oregon, Bhasker said. In an audio message to Bhasker from the US after he qualified for the final, Rohit has said that notwithstanding the newness of figuring in such a big final, he will give his best.
What should interest, is that Rohit’s entry to the world championship final may be just the start of a longer story from Dabhiya. Rohit’s younger brother, Rohan, 16, has also taken to the javelin and, according to Bhasker, already touches distances beyond 72m. Spotted by the army as a promising talent, Rohan currently trains at their sports facility, Bhasker said.
(The authors, Latha Venkatraman and Shyam G Menon, are independent journalists based in Mumbai.)
For some reason, the day I visited him, a copy of this book in hand, my uncle began talking of Tintin and the near complete collection of Tintin’s adventures, he had helped compile in the family. I don’t know if it was triggered by the Tintin-esque cover of the book, which I had placed on the table. That or not, the digression to Tintin sat well for Nariman Karkaria’s memoir appealed much the same way – his is the story of a youngster, training to be a priest in Navsari, who in 1910, trades that existence for a shot at seeing the world and fighting in one of its biggest wars. It is adventure, honest writing and a progressively evolving view of the world; you sense the perceived manliness of being in the military but also the butchery and meaninglessness of war. The author’s capacity to state things honestly, as they appear to him, probably makes this book less appetizing for today’s politically correct lot. Sample this bit about Indian society, as much valid now as it must have been then: Was it an ordinary matter to reach London, the original vilayat for us Indians? I had grown up hearing so much about the place and its personalities that London seemed to be something out of this world. I was rather impatient to see the city. Who among us wouldn’t like to go to vilayat? The very mention of it leaves many of us salivating with expectation. When a man returns home from a trip to vilayat, he seems to be in seventh heaven and his mother struts around town with her nose in the air. Is it therefore strange that a simpleton like me was so excited? Its narrative free of overbearing judgement, this is a book for those who love a quick, engaging read. One that runs smooth (the original Gujarati text has been translated to English and cast in a very readable style), sticks close to its central objective of travelogue and observation of life and flies like an arrow. Towards the final chapters, a bit of fatigue and repetitiveness in perspective did set in but that was pardonable. Plus, two other factors came to mind. First, it amazed to hear the First World War and the trenches of France described through Indian eyes. Nariman Karkaria’s accounts in this regard are among the few narratives by Indian participants in World War I, discovered yet. Second, the whole adventure in a youngster casting off to Hong Kong without informing his parents and working his way from there via China, Siberia, Russia and Europe to England (counting mainly on the Parsi diaspora for support) and then eventually seeing action with the British army in France, West Asia and the Balkans is an absorbing story cast the old school way. Its appeal is timeless. At least, it was enough to make this fifty plus writer – life’s errors and regrets in tow – wish he was fifteen again and staring at a clean slate. But perhaps, what genuinely engaged me about a memoir from the early part of the twentieth century was something else. Compared to our times reduced to celebrating specialization, monetary success and social standing, Nariman Karkaria seemed all about discovering world and existence without the contemporary recourse to pursuing elite scholarship and bright, saleable future. He heeded the call of the universe and all it took him was resolve, fifty rupees and a steamer to Hong Kong. Further, in his writing style, there is no straining to justify his thoughts and actions; cast it in some politically correct paradigm. He states it, as it is, baggage-free. The First World War Adventures of Nariman Karkaria – try it. For me, it was an astonishing find. The book also reminded me of another account from a slightly later yet adjacent period – With Cyclists Around the World (written about earlier on this blog), which narrates the experience of a group of cyclists from Mumbai (then, Bombay), who cycled around the world during the period 1923 to 1927.
(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)
Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia won the women’s marathon at the 2022 World Athletics Championship, finishing the race in a new championship record of two hours, 18 minutes and 11 seconds.
Judith Jeptum Korir (2:18:20) of Kenya took silver and Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Israel (2:20:18), the bronze.
It was an engaging race with a lead pack built around defending champion Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya, emerging not long after the start. However, Chepngetich was forced to withdraw from the competition between kilometres 18 and 19, due to stomach issues (as per race commentary). When Chepengetich stepped off the course, the others in the pack wasted no time in accelerating, ostensibly to make it difficult for her to catch up. From this churn, a new lead quartet was born featuring Korir, Angela Tanui of Kenya, Gebreslase and Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia. It appeared a case of two Kenyans and two Ethiopians set to battle it out for the medals. The rest of the field was behind by a visible margin although the racers were still short of the half-way mark.
Past the half-way mark, the quartet progressively split into two distinct groups with Korir and Gebreslase emerging as potential contenders for the top two positions. The two groups were separated by a sizable margin. For some time Tanui and Yeshaneh seemed to vie for the bronze before Yeshaneh moved ahead only to be overtaken in turn by Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Israel and Nazret Weldu of Eritrea. The latter two had steadily reduced the gap between them and Tanui, and then, Yeshaneh. Despite figuring in the lead pack (and later, the duo trailing the leaders) for a good portion of the race, Ababel Yeshaneh eventually dropped off; she was seen clutching her side periodically in the build up to DNF. Roughly two kilometres from the finish line, Gebreslase who had been hovering close at the shoulders of Korir, sometimes to the latter’s discomfort, strode out in front. She increased the gap consistently and went on to finish with a new championship record to her credit.
It was a race with remarkable performances – there was the measured way in which Gebreslase ran; the display of quiet determination by Salpeter, working her way up to pass Tanui and Yeshaneh and stay ahead of Weldu for the bronze medal, and Sarah Hall of the US who too came from behind to finish fifth ahead of Tanui. There was no dramatic sprint-finish or any such flourish for the race. What lingered instead as aftertaste was the fruits of determined running.
Gebreslase, 27, made her debut in the women’s marathon at the 2021 Berlin Marathon, which she won in 2:20:09. Later, at the 2022 Tokyo Marathon she finished third with a timing of 2:18:18. Korir, who took silver, had in April 2022, won in the women’s category at the Paris Marathon with timing of 2:19:48. Born in Kenya and now running for Israel, Salpeter has a personal best of 2:17:45 achieved at the 2020 Tokyo Marathon, where she placed first among women. Yeshaneh is a former world record holder in the women’s half marathon (1:04:31). Prior to that she had finished second (2:20:51) at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. Tanui had earlier placed fourth (2:18:42) at the 2022 Tokyo Marathon and before that in October 2021, won at the TCS Amsterdam Marathon (2:17:57). Weldu was winner (2:21:56) among women at the Daegu International Marathon held in April 2022 in Korea. In November 2020, she had finished seventh among women in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon.
According to Runner’s World, besides Sarah Hall, two other American athletes – Emma Bates and Keira D’Amato – finished in the top ten of the women’s marathon at the 2022 world championship in Eugene, making it the best performance by a US marathon squad, male or female, to date at the event. In terms of nationality, the top ten finishers also included two athletes from Kenya and one each from Ethiopia, Israel, Eritrea, Japan and Mexico.
(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)
Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia won the men’s marathon at the 2022 World Athletics Championship, covering the distance in a new championship record of two hours, five minutes and 36 seconds.
His compatriot Mosinet Geremew (2:06:44), who took silver, completed the Ethiopian domination of the podium. The bronze went to Bashir Abdi (2: 06: 48) of Belgium.
In its report, Runner’s World attributed Tola’s performance to “ blasting the stretch between 30K and 40K in 28:27.’’ The move helped him put a significant gap between himself and the rest of the lead pack. The previous championship record (2:06:54) was held by Abel Kirui of Kenya; it was set in Berlin in 2009.
Following the race at the 2022 world championship, World Athletics reported on its website that it had been a dream come true for Tola. “ I learned from my mistake in 2017 (World Championships) and I made sure it did not happen again. ” On that occasion, Tola’s attempted run for home 10km from the end was thwarted as Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui overtook him to win gold. This time there was no faltering on the 30-year-old Ethiopian’s part,” the report said.
It added, “ By the 34km marker his lead was seven seconds. At 35km it was 12 seconds, at 36km it was 17 seconds and at 37km it was 26 seconds. With 5km to go, the gold was gone and the drama of the race resided in which of the chasing group of four – Abdi, Geremew, Levins and Kamworor – would share the podium.’’
In the past, Tola had finished second in the men’s marathon at the 2017 world championships held in London. In March 2022, he had placed third in the annual Tokyo Marathon and prior to that, won the 2021 TCS Amsterdam Marathon. Geremew owns the third fastest time yet in the marathon; 2:02:55, set at the 2019 London Marathon. No stranger to India, he was twice winner – in 2014 and 2015 – of the TCS World 10K held every year in Bengaluru. Abdi, who is originally from Somalia, had earlier won the bronze medal in the men’s marathon, at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Finishing just after Basher Abdi at the 2022 world championship in Eugene, was Cameron Levins of Canada. He earned a new national record of 2:07:09. At the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021, he had finished 72nd in the men’s marathon. The highest ranked Kenyan athlete in the men’s marathon in Eugene was Geoffrey Kamworor. He covered the distance in 2:07:14 to place fifth. Among American runners in the men’s marathon at Eugene, Galen Rupp was the first one home in 2:09:37. He placed nineteenth. A highly ranked runner in the US, Rupp had earlier won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and subsequently finished eighth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo (the marathon was held in Sapporo).
As per results available on the website of World Athletics, the top ten finishers in the men’s marathon at Eugene included three athletes from Ethiopia and one each from Canada, Kenya, Tanzania, Brazil, Bahrain and Zimbabwe. A notable DNF was well known Ethiopian long-distance runner, Lelisa Desisa (a past winner of the annual marathons in Boston and New York, in 2011, he was winner of the Delhi Half Marathon).
(The author, Shyam G Menon, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)
More peaks opened up for trekking and climbing in Uttarakhand
The Uttarakhand government has added 30 more peaks and 10 high altitude treks (trekking peaks) to the list of objectives available for trekking and mountaineering in the state.
According to news reports, only 12 teams with 10 members each can attempt any of the peaks in the new list, twice a year. Further, to ensure that non-biodegradable waste does not litter these high-altitude areas, the teams will have to make a security deposit, which is returnable on the condition that they bring back all such waste. In its report, Times of India, quoting a senior government official said that the mountaineering and trekking activities will be done in league with local eco-development committees.
The addition of these peaks to the existing list of mountains available for climbing and high-altitude trekking is expected to give a push to adventure tourism in the state, the media reports said.
The 10 new trekking peaks are Bhagnyu, Lamchir, Lamchir South, Nar Parbat, Narayan Parbat, Nanda Lapak, Ratangarian, Yan Buk, Mahalay Parbat and Pawagarh.
A senior mountaineer pointed out that the 30 new peaks offered for mountaineering also include three – Devistan I, Devistan II and Rishi Kot – whose routes are described as “ inside Nanda Devi sanctuary’’ in the list. The routes are via the Nanda Devi National Park and the relevant check point is Lata. The Nanda Devi sanctuary was declared off-limits to locals and climbers in 1983. The Nanda Devi National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
2022 CWG / Gold for Jessica Stenson in women’s marathon
Jessica Stenson of Australia won gold in the women’s marathon at the 2022 Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Birmingham, UK. She covered the distance in two hours, 27 minutes and 31 seconds. Silver went to Margaret Wangari Muriuki of Kenya (2:28:00). Defending champion, Helalia Johannes of Namibia (2:28:39) had to settle for bronze. There were 16 runners in the fray.
Neeraj Chopra to miss 2022 Commonwealth Games
Neeraj Chopra, Olympic champion in javelin throw and silver medallist this month (July) at the 2022 World Athletics Championship, has withdrawn from the upcoming Commonwealth Games (CWG) due to injury.
“ Chopra, the defending CWG champion, had injured his groin during the World Championship final in Eugene, USA, on Saturday. He underwent a MRI scan the following day and was subsequently advised one-month rest by the doctors, according to Rajeev Mehta, the secretary-general of the Indian Olympic Association,” the Indian Express reported.
Neearj, 24, was to be India’s flagbearer at the event in Birmingham, UK. The report said a decision on the new flagbearer would be taken soon.
With Neeraj unavailable, India will be represented in the javelin throw competition at CWG by D. P. Manu and Rohit Yadav. They will be up against a strong field that includes world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada.
Eldhose Paul becomes first Indian to reach the triple jump final at World Athletics Championship
Eldhose Paul became the first athlete from India to qualify for the triple jump final at the world athletics championship. At the 2022 edition of the event in Eugene, Oregon, USA, the 25-year-old jumped 16.68m to qualify for the final.
Those who cleared 17.05m or featured in the 12 best jumps in the qualifying round spread over two groups, were eligible for the final. In the qualification round, Paul placed twelfth overall. As reported in the media, Paul works for the Indian Navy and hails from Ernakulam in Kerala. According to data available on the website of World Athletics, his personal best is 16.99m, achieved in April 2022.
Morocco’s El Bakkali treats himself to steeplechase world title; Sable finishes eleventh
Reigning Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco lapped up the title of world champion, winning the 3000m steeplechase final in a time of eight minutes, 25.13 seconds, at the 2022 World Athletics Championship. Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia (8:26.01) took silver and Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya (8:27.92), the bronze.
The race, keenly awaited in India owing to the presence of Avinash Sable in the field, saw the Indian athlete finishing eleventh with a time of 8:31.75. Sable’s time was well short of the 8:12.48, he set at an international meet in Rabat, Morocco, in June 2022. It must however be remembered that such measurements in athletics are influenced by conditions on the field, including how a race unfolds in accordance with the pacing and strategies of the race leaders. For instance, El Bakkali’s time in his gold medal winning performance at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, was 8:08.90. The world record in the men’s steeplechase is 7:53.63, set by Qatar’s Saif Saaeed Shahin (formerly Stephen Cherono of Kenya) in 2004.
Sreeshankar finishes seventh in long jump final
Parul Chaudhary sets new personal best
India’s Murali Sreeshankar, who had earlier become the first Indian athlete to qualify for the final in the men’s long jump event at a world championships, finished seventh in the final at the 2022 World Athletics Championship being held over July 15-24 at Eugene, Oregon, in the US.
The 23-year-old had qualified with a jump of eight metres. However in the final, his best jump best measured 7.96 metres. The final was won by China’s Jianan Wang who managed 8.36 metres.
In the women’s 3000m steeplechase heats, India’s Parul Chaudhary failed to qualify for the final although she earned a new personal best of 9:38.09.
Sable in steeplechase final, Sreeshankar in long jump final
India’s Avinash Sable has made it to the final of the men’s 3000m steeplechase event at the 2022 World Athletics Championship, being held over July 15-24, at Eugene, Oregon in the US.
In the heats, Sable finished third with timing of 8:18.75. Hailemariam Amare of Ethiopia (8:18.34) and Evan Jager of the US (8:18.44) placed ahead of him. Sable holds the Indian national record in 3000m steeplechase – 8:12.48. Notably, the 27-year-old has broken the national record several times, commencing (as per Wikipedia) with the 8:29.80 he set at the 2018 National Open Championships in Bhubaneshwar. The last time he broke the national record was at an international athletics meet in Rabat, Morocco.
Sable also holds the national record in the half marathon – 1:00:30, set at the Delhi Half Marathon in November 2020.
Among other Indian athletes competing at the world championships in Eugene, Murali Sreeshankar made it to the final of the long jump. The 23-year-old jumped eight metres to make the cut. He is the first Indian to qualify for the final in the men’s long jump at the world championships.
Jim Thorpe sole gold medallist of 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon
Nearly 110 years after he was stripped of his medals for violating the strict rules governing amateur sport at the time, American athlete Jim Thorpe was reinstated as the sole gold medallist of the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon events.
“ Thorpe, a Native American, returned to a ticker-tape parade in New York, but months later it was discovered he had been paid to play minor league baseball over two summers, an infringement of the Olympic amateurism rules. He was stripped of his gold medals in what was described as the first major international sports scandal. Thorpe to some remains the greatest all-around athlete ever. He was voted as the Associated Press’ Athlete of the Half Century in a poll in 1950,’’ AP said in its report on the reinstatement.
According to it, in 1982, 29 years after Thorpe’s death, the IOC gave duplicate gold medals to his family but his Olympic records were not reinstated, nor was his status as the sole gold medalist of the two events. Two years ago, a Bright Path Strong petition advocated declaring Thorpe the outright winner of the pentathlon and decathlon in 1912. The International Olympic Committee had listed him as a co-champion in the official record book.
“ This is a most exceptional and unique situation, which has been addressed by an extraordinary gesture of fair play from the National Olympic Committees concerned,’’ IOC president, Thomas Bach, was quoted as saying in a statement (dated July 15, 2022) related to Thorpe’s reinstatement.
(The author, Shyam G Menon, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)
Pune-based ultra-runner, Ashish Kasodekar, completed Badwater 135 in 38 hours, 24 minutes and 26 seconds.
At the 2022 edition of the race, he was, as per results available on the event’s website, the thirty first runner to cross the finish line. The overall winner of 2022 Badwater 135, the 217-kilometre ultramarathon held annually in California, was Yoshihiko Ishikawa from Japan. He finished the run in 23:08:20. Yoshihiko had won the 2019 Badwater 135 setting a course record of 21:33:01.
Triathlete and ultra-runner, Ashley Paulson of the US, won the women’s race at 2022 Badwater 135, crossing the finish line in a new course record of 24 hours, nine minutes and 34 seconds. The previous course record was 24:13:24 hours set by Polish runner Patrycja Bereznowska in 2019.
The overall second place finisher at the 2022 edition was Ivan Penalba Lopez of Spain. He finished in 24:02:57 hours. Ashley Paulson was the third runner to finish.
(The authors, Latha Venkatraman and Shyam G Menon, are independent journalists based in Mumbai.)
US-based triathlete and ultra-runner Ashley Paulson won the women’s race at 2022 Badwater 135, crossing the finish line in 24 hours, nine minutes and 34 seconds, a new course record.
The previous women’s course record was 24:13:24 hours, set by Polish runner Patrycja Bereznowska in 2019.
The overall winner of 2022 Badwater 135, the 217 kilometre-ultramarathon held annually in California, was Yoshihiko Ishikawa from Japan. He finished the run in 23:08:20. Yoshihiko had won the 2019 Badwater 135 setting a course record of 21:33:01. The race was not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the overall winner was Harvey Lewis of the US (25:50;23); the winner among women was Sally McRae (30:48:47), also of the US.
The overall second place finisher this year was Ivan Penalba Lopez of Spain. He finished in 24:02:57 hours.
Ashley Paulson was the third runner to finish.
At 11.11 PM (IST), the time of publishing this report, India’s Ashish Kasodekar (from Pune) was past the time station at 131.1 miles (210.98 kilometres). The race is 135 miles long.
(The authors, Latha Venkatraman and Shyam G Menon, are independent journalists based in Mumbai.)