AT A GLANCE / MAY 2022

Kenyan runners dominate at 2022 TCS World 10K; course records broken

This photo was downloaded from the event website and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended.

Kenyan runners Nicholas Kipkorir Kimeli and Irene Cheptai broke course records for the men’s and women’s race respectively at the TCS World 10K Bengaluru 2022, held on May 15, 2022, the event website said.

Nicholas Kipkorir finished the race in 27:38 minutes, improving by six seconds the previous course record set by Kenyan athlete Geoffrey Kamworor way back in 2014.

In the women’s race, Irene Cheptai also from Kenya, finished the run in 30:35 minutes, breaking the earlier course record of 31:19 set by late Agnes Tirop in 2018.

This photo was downloaded from the event website and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended.

Tadese Worku of Ethiopia crossed the finish line after Kipkorir in 27:42 and Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie finished third with a timing of 27:55. In the women’s race, Kenyan athlete Hellen Obiri, finished second with a timing of 30:44. In third position was Joyce Tele, also from Kenya, with timing of 31:46.

Among Indian runners, Abhishek Pal topped the podium, finishing the race in 30:04 minutes. Kartik Kumar finishing a second later claimed the second position. A second later, Gulveer Singh finished in third position.

Among Indian women, Parul Chaudhary won the race in 34:37 minutes. Sanjivani Jadhav finished after her in 34:45 and in third position was Komal Jagadale who finished the race in 35:27.

Indian team for IAU 24-Hour Asia & Oceania Championships 2022 announced

Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has announced the team to represent India at the IAU 24-Hour Asia & Oceania Championships 2022 to be held on July 2nd and 3rdat Bengaluru.

Women ultra-runners chosen to participate in the championships include Anju Saini, Aparna Choudhary, Asha Singh, Ashwini Ganapathi, Preeti Lala and Shashi Mehta. Among men, Amar Shiv Dev, Amar Singh Devanda, Badal Teotia, Binay Kumar Sah, Geeno Antony and Saurav Kumar Ranjan form the team. The Ultra and Trail Running Committee of AFI has selected the athletes for the championships.

Athletes chosen were required to a 24-hour race during the period July 1, 2021 to May 5, 2022. The qualifying distance for women runners was 175 km and for male runners, 215 km.

The event will be held at Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.

(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / APRIL 2022

Aleksandr Sorokin (This photo was downloaded from the Twitter page of Centurion Running and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended)

Lithuania’s Aleksandr Sorokin sets new world record in 100 km

Aleksandr Sorokin of Lithuania set a new world record in 100 kilometres at the Centurion Running Track 100 Mile in Bedford, United Kingdom on Saturday, April 23, 2022.

He ran the distance in a record time of six hours, five minutes and 41 minutes, setting aside the previous 100 km world record of 6:09:14 held by Japan’s Nao Kazami, set in June 2018.

Sorokin already holds world records for 100 miles (11:14:56), 12-hour run (170.309 km) and 24-hour (309.4 km)

Kenyan sweep at 2022 Boston Marathon; Olympic champion Jepchirchir wins women’s race

Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya won the women’s race at the 2022 Boston Marathon, held on April 18, 2022.

It was a Kenyan sweep at the iconic marathon, which returned to its original schedule after two years impacted by the pandemic.

Peres finished the race in two hours 21 minutes and one second. Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia came in second with a timing of 2:21:05 and in third position was Kenya’s Mary Ngugi in 2:21:32.

Kenyans dominated the men’s race with Evans Chebet winning in a time of 2:06:51. Lawrence Cherono finished second in 2:07:21 and Benson Kipruto third in 2:07:27.

(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / MARCH 2022

Bindu Juneja

27 Indian ultra-runners participate in IAU Virtual Global Solidarity Run

Twenty-seven Indian ultra-runners participated in the 6-Hour IAU Virtual Solidarity Run 2022 held on March 20.

Originally 28 Indian runners were scheduled to participate in the 6-hour run. Manoj Bhat had to drop out due to injury.

Among women Bindu Juneja reported the most distance logged within the stipulated duration – 63.3 kilometres. Sandeep Kumar covered a distance of 81.2 km, the highest in the men’s category. Geeno Antony had the second highest mileage – 68.37 km.

Sandeep Kumar

Running in Surat, Sandeep found the familiarity of the place psychologically easy prompting him to push for high mileage. In 2020, during the same run, Sandeep had covered 79.5 km during the 6-hour period.

“ It was quiet in the early morning but after 8 AM heat and Sunday traffic started to rise,’’ he said. With barely one hour left for the time to finish, he found himself beset with injury. “ But I decided to continue,” he said.

For nutrition and hydration, he had gels, electrolytes, coconut water, lemonade, banana, oats biscuits and peanut butter.

Sunil Chainani, Amar Singh Devanda, Bindu Juneja, Gorkha Ram, Velu P, Rakesh Saran and Om Prakash (Dany) Saran

Running in Bengaluru, Bindu Juneja had the company of five male runners from among those enlisted to run. “ We were to run in the outer loop of Kanteerava Stadium. Initially, the stadium staff were reluctant to allow us to run for six hours. We thought we would run for the first few hours there and then move out. But eventually, we ended up running in the stadium throughout,” she said.

“ I had a plan and followed it till the end. The weather was relatively good,” Bindu said.

For company, she had ultra-runners P. Velu, Amar Singh Devanda (the national record holder in 100 km and 24-hour), Gorkha Ram, Rakesh Saran and Dany Saran.

Asha Singh
Geeno Antony

Sunil Chainani, Bengaluru-based runner and formerly a member of the Athletics Federation of India’s ultra-running committee, also kept the runners company for the first three hours.

Asha Singh, running in a park in Lucknow, managed to cover a distance of 61.86 km during the stipulated time. Last week, she had participated in the 100 km race at Tuffman Stadium Run in Chandigarh. But the race was cancelled mid-way because of technical glitches in timing. There, she had covered a distance of 75 km before the race was called off.

During the 6-hour period, temperatures in Lucknow touched 36 degrees Celsius. Asha’s husband Bajrang Singh provided support to her during the run.

The Indian runners were given T-shirts by NEB Sports.

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

Indian ultra-runners to participate in IAU Virtual Global Solidarity Run 2022

Twenty-eight ultra-runners from India – nine women and 19 male runners – will be participating in the six-hour IAU/AFI Virtual Global Solidarity Run 2022 to be held on March 19 and 20, 2022.

Alongside the IAU Virtual Solidarity Run 2022, the Athletic Federation of India (AFI) Virtual Global Solidarity Run will also be held. In the AFI run, 13 runners – 10 men and three women – will be participating.

“ The IAU 6 Hour Global Solidarity Run has been an overwhelming success and popular amongst the ultrarunners. An event that was initiated to bring the IAU family together during the pandemic has become a source of hope and a beacon of optimism for the global ultrarunning community,’’ IAU statement said quoting IAU General Secretary Hilary Walker.

Women ultra-runners participating in the IAU event include Asha Singh, Deepti Chaudhary, Anju Saini, Preeti Lala, Ashwini G and Shashi Mehta.

Among men, Binay Kumar Sah, Sandeep Kumar, Sunil Sharma, Velu Perumal, Geeno Antony, Gorkha Ram, Om Prakash Saran, Amar Singh Devanda and Vipul Kumar will be representing the country.

AFI runners include Badal Teotia, Munish Dev, Parveen Kumar Sangwan, Rakesh Kumar Saran, Manoj Bhat, Satpal Rayka, Deepak Chhillar, Amar Shiv Dev and Santosh Gowda among men and Bindu Juneja, Aparna Chaudhary and Shikha Pahwa among women.

As per the instructions issued by AFI, the runners are mandated to commence their 6-hour virtual run at 5:30 AM and end at 11:30 AM on March 20, 2022. They are to run with a GPS tracker device and are expected to give a screenshot of the tracker every hour.

The virtual event will be overseen by Dr Rajat Chauhan and Santosh Padmanabhan.

Eliud Kipchoge (This photo was downloaded from the athlete’s Facebook page and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended)

Kipchoge, Kosgei emerge winners at Tokyo Marathon

Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya won the men’s race at the Tokyo Marathon in a new course record of 2:02:40.

The time he took to cover the distance is as yet the fourth fastest in the history of the sport. Kipchoge’s performance was despite a wrong turn essayed by the lead pack just after the 10 kilometre-mark, an incident that would have affected the runners’ time and rhythm. The Tokyo Marathon was held on Sunday, March 6, 2022.

“ Kipchoge has now won 14 marathons overall, including nine World Marathon Major events and two Olympic marathons. With wins in Tokyo, London, Berlin, and Chicago, he joins Wilson Kipsang as the only men to have won four different WMM events since the series began in 2006. Only Boston and New York remain for Kipchoge to complete an unprecedented sweep,” the website letsrun.com said in its report on the Tokyo Marathon.

Second place in the men’s race went to Kenya’s Amos Kipruto (2:03:13). Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia (2:04:14) placed third. Although held in March 2022, the event was actually the delayed 2021 edition because that year’s race was postponed to be held in October 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and then again postponed to March 2022.

In the women’s race, top honours went to world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya. She completed the race in 2:16:02, the third fastest time recorded yet for women. Ashete Bikere of Ethiopia (2:17:58) finished second while fellow Ethiopian, Goytom Gebrselase (2:18:18) placed third.

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

AT A GLANCE / JANUARY 2022

Aleksandr Sorokin (This image was downloaded from the athlete’s Facebook page. No copyright infringement intended)

Aleksandr Sorokin breaks 100 mile, 12-hour world records

First runner to cover 100 miles in less than 11 hours

Lithuanian ultra-runner Aleksandr Sorokin set new world records in the 100 mile and 12-hour run at the Spartanion 12-hour event in Israel on January 6.

He is the first runner to break the 11-hour barrier in 100 miles.

Running on a 1.46-kilometre loop, he covered 100 miles in 10 hours, 51 minutes and 39 seconds. He went on to complete the 12-hour run covering a distance of 110.24 miles (176.384 km). Both of these are new world records. According to a January 6 report on the website irunfar.com, the new records were yet to be officially confirmed.

Known popularly as Sania, he broke his own records set in April 2021 at the ultra-running event in Ashford, Kent.

“ Sorokin held an incredible average pace of about 6:32 minutes per mile (about 4:04 minutes per kilometer) for 12 hours. This effort breaks his own previous world records of 11:14:56 for 100 miles and 105.825 miles (170.309 kilometers) for 12 hours, improving those respective records by about 22 minutes and about 4.4 miles (about 7 kilometers),” irunfar.com said in its report.

(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / DECEMBER 2021

Camille Herron (this image was downloaded from the athlete’s Twitter handle and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended.)

Ultrarunners Nick Coury, Camille Herron set new American records

Nick Coury set a new American record in 24-hour ultrarunning at the 2021 Desert Solstice Track Invitational held on December 11 and 12, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.

He covered a distance of 173.01 miles (276.82 kilometers), beating the previous record of 172.45 miles (275.92 km) held by Mike Morton.

The world record belongs to Lithuanian runner Sania Sorokin, who ran 303.4 km during a 24-hour race in Poland in September 2021.

At the same event, American runner Camille Herron reset her 100 mile-record (13:25:00), covering the distance in 13:21:51.

Aman Mehla, Tamali Basu win Goa River Marathon 2021

Aman Mehla and Tamali Basu won the men’s and women’s races at the 2021 edition of Goa River Marathon, held on December 12, 2021.

Aman finished the marathon in two hours, 53 minutes and 33 seconds. In the women’s race, Tamali covered the distance in 3:54:32.

In the half marathon category, the winner in the men’s race was Rahul Shukla (1:13:22). Pramila Patil (1:42:49) won the women’s race.

Balu Pukale, Manisha Joshi win Satara Hill Half Marathon 2021

Balu Pukale won the Satara Hill Half Marathon of 2021 with timing of 1:14:13. The race, normally held in September, was held on December 12, 2021.

In the woman’s race, Manisha Joshi was the winner of the half marathon event; she timed 1:46:35.

In the men’s category, Anil Korvi finished second with timing of 1:19:08 while Dharmender Kumar (1:21:09) placed third.

In the women’s race, Madhurani Banasode finished second with timing of 1:47:20 and Vaishali Garag (1:50:27) third.

(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / NOVEMBER 2021

Ashish Kasodekar (Photo: Shyam G Menon)

Pune ultra-runner to attempt 60 marathons in 60 days

Pune-based ultramarathoner, Ashish Kasodekar, plans to run 60 marathons in 60 days.

He plans to commence his endeavour on November 28, 2021.

The last of these marathons will be on January 26, 2022, coinciding with Republic Day.

The proposed feat has been cast in the form of a 60-day long running event, organised by Run Buddies.

The title sponsor of the event is Traveltime Car Rental Private Ltd.

The event, titled Ultra Dynamo, is being organised at Savitribai Phule Pune University. In 2019, Ashish had been the first Indian to complete the 555 km-category of La Ultra The High in Ladakh.

Alongside the latest challenge Ashish has set for himself, Run Buddies has organised runs of varying distances such as 5 km, 19 km, 21 km and 42 km. Runners wanting to participate can do so by registering for these runs.

“ I wanted to do something for my 50th birthday. My plan was to attempt this in April 2021 but I had to reschedule due to the pandemic and lockdown,’’ Ashish said.

According to him, support for the marathons, across the assigned 60 days, will be provided by the volunteers of Run Buddies. Many runners coming together to run the various distances will contribute to the overall momentum.

“ In such an event, recovery is most important. Good sleep and diet will be key elements,’’ Ashish said.

He is slated to do the Badwater 135 ultra-marathon in July 2022.

Jacob Kiplimo (This photo was downloaded from the Twitter handle of the athlete and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended)

Uganda’s Kiplimo sets new half marathon world record

Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda has broken the half marathon world record.

At an event in Lisbon, he covered the distance in 57 minutes and 31 seconds.

Kiplimo, who won the bronze medal in the 10,000 meters at Tokyo Olympics earlier this year, broke the half marathon world record set previously by Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie in Valencia in 2020.

The Ugandan runner took one second off Kibiwott’s record.

(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / OCTOBER 2021

Sampathkumar Subramanian (Photo: courtesy Sampathkumar)

India’s Sampathkumar finishes third in Salomon Cappadocia Short Trail Run

Indian ultra-runner Sampathkumar Subramanian secured a podium finish at the Salomon Cappadocia Short Trail Run held on October 16, 2021 in Turkey.

Sampathkumar finished third in the 38 km trail run with timing of three hours, 13 minutes and 54 seconds.

Salomon Cappadocia Short Trail is held along the hills and valleys of the Cappadocia region, a UNESCO world heritage site. Over a distance of 38 km, the run features a variation in altitude of 1120 meters.

The winner of the race was Oleksandr Chenikalo of Ukraine. He finished in 3:08:44. Yilmaz Tongul of Turkey finished second with timing of 3:11:33.

Elisha Rotich; this photo was downloaded from the Paris Marathon website and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright violation intended.

Kenya’s Rotich sets course record in men’s race at 2021 Paris Marathon

Elisha Rotich of Kenya set a course record in the men’s race at the 2021 edition of Paris Marathon, crossing the finish line in two hours, four minutes and 21 seconds on October 17, 2021. In the process, he broke Kenenisa Bekele’s course record of 2:05:04 and also achieved a personal best.

Ethiopia’s Tigist Memuye won the women’s race in 2:26:12.

The Paris Marathon was slated to be held in April this year but was rescheduled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Agnes Tirop death: Kenyan police allowed to hold her husband in custody for 20 days

Agnes Tirop; this image was downloaded from the Twitter handle of World Athletics and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright violation intended.

A Kenyan court allowed the police to hold the husband of long-distance runner Agnes Tirop for 20 days in custody, on the suspicion of killing his wife.

The 25-year-old athlete – she was world record holder in the 10 kilometers women’s only event – was found stabbed to death at her home in Iten on October 13, 2021. The world record of 30:01 was set just weeks earlier in September.

Among the world’s most promising runners, she had won bronze medal in the 10,000 meters race at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships. She finished fourth in the 5000 meters race at Tokyo Olympics. In 2018, she had set a course record for women at the 2018 TCS World 10K in Bengaluru.

Athletics Kenya issued a condolence note on the demise of the athlete.

(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / APRIL 2021

Tata Mumbai Marathon rescheduled

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

The organizer of the Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM) has informed that the event’s 2021 edition will require to be rescheduled.

In a statement dated April 17, 2021, Procam International said, “ the new date will be announced in due course after consultations with the Government of Maharashtra and relevant athletic bodies. ‘’

The race was set to take place on May 30, 2021. 

In a normal year, the event takes place in January.

India is currently in the grip of a second wave of COVID-19 infection. Among states, the case load is particularly high in Maharashtra; Mumbai is among badly hit cities.

The statement quoted Vivek Singh, Jt. MD., Procam International as saying, “ The Tata Mumbai Marathon has a special place in our hearts, and we thank everyone for making this iconic event a sporting phenomenon. As we navigate these challenging times, we want you to know that we are leaving no stone unturned to make the marathon possible this year. The Government of Maharashtra and our partners have been extremely supportive to ensure, that we have the best possible option, keeping in mind the safety and security for all involved.

“ By shifting our focus to a new date, we will continue to work closely with the state, national and international athletic bodies to identify a suitable date for the event, which is conducive to the safe conduct of the event for all stakeholders.”

According to it, the organizing team “ continues to remain motivated and committed to deliver the 2021 edition of the Tata Mumbai Marathon, in its truest sense.’’ All related details such as registration date, race course, and the events around the race will follow suit once the rescheduled date is announced, the statement added.

Further details about Tata Mumbai Marathon 2021, a World Athletics Road Race Elite Label, will be available on the website of the event.

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

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.)

AT A GLANCE / FEBRUARY 2021

L L Meena (right, with the Indian flag) Photo: courtesy Sunil Chainani

Ultra-runner L. L. Meena passes away

Noted ultra-runner, L. L. Meena, passed away on February 10, 2021, following a battle with cancer.

Meena, who worked with the Indian Army had turned 39 on February 1. He had been running ultra-distance races for the past several years and had represented India in both the 2018 100 kilometer IAU World Championships in Croatia and the 2018 24-hour IAU Asia & Oceania Championships in Taipei.

“ He was running ultra-distance races much before India started sending teams to represent the country in international championships,” Sunil Chainani, member of the Ultra Running Committee of Athletics Federation of India, said. At the Taipei event, he pushed himself over the last couple of hours to help India secure the bronze medal. He was among the three top Indian finishers, the others being Ullas Narayana and Sunil Sharma, Chainani said. The team medal is decided on the performance of the top three runners. The Indian team was represented by six runners at that event.

Many ultra-runners remember Meena as a kind, genuine, compassionate, extremely helpful and down-to-earth person. He was known to be very supportive of runners. “ In Croatia, we had rented a large apartment for the event. Meena would cook for all of us,” Sunil Chainani remembered. “ He was extremely supportive and a very positive person. You won’t find another ultra-runner like Meena. We ran together at many events,” Pranaya Mohanty, ultra-runner, said. 

“ He was a very selfless individual,” Anjali Saraogi, ultra-runner, said. Meena used to call people without fail, on festival days and their birthdays, to wish them. She remembered in particular the support he offered at the 100 kilometer IAU World Championships in Croatia. Anjali came into this event as a comparative novice. “ Meena had already done many ultra-runs and stadium runs. He used to call me and provide tips and suggestions on how to prepare. He was protective and encouraging,” she said. In the run up to the event Anjali came down with dengue fever. Result – on the day of the competition, as the run got underway, she found herself really challenged. “ I was suffering. The competition in Croatia was held on a loop. There were many instances when Meena and I passed each other on that loop. At each instance, he would overlook his own suffering and encourage me,” Anjali said, pointing out how Meena never lost sight of the team. “ His passing is a big loss for the Indian ultra-running community,” she said.  

According to those who knew him well, the type of cancer Meena suffered from was tough to overcome. It was detected in the second stage. Both the news of Meena’s ailment and his eventual passing, reached the running community late. Chander Kandpal is among those who knew Meena well. He comprehended the situation obliquely at the 2020 New Delhi Marathon. At one of the hydration points en route, he came across Meena cheering and supporting the runners. Chander noticed the typical signs of chemotherapy on Meena; that was how he got to know of the predicament. “ He used to come to Delhi for treatment. After the diagnosis, which I think was sometime in August 2019, Meena didn’t participate in any event. But he would turn up to cheer and support others,” Chander said, adding, “ anybody can be a good runner but being a great human being, that is not possible for everyone. Meena was just that. He was the finest human being in the ultra-running community.”  

New national records in 20km race walk

Sandeep Kumar (Haryana) and Priyanka Goswami (Uttar Pradesh) became the first Indian athletes to qualify for next year’s World Athletics Championships Oregon22 when they broke the national record in the 20km race walk for men and women respectively, a press release dated February 13, available on the website of Athletics Federation of India (AFI) said.

The event concerned was held on a 1km-loop on Morabadi Road in Ranchi.

“ Together with Rahul Kumar, who finished second in the men’s event, they also qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games to be held later this year. Both men are athletes from the Army Sports Institute They took the number of Indian race walkers who have made the grade to five, joining K T Irfan and Bhawana Jat.  Their efforts have raised the number of Indian qualifiers to 14 so far,” the release said.

Results:

Men 20km walk: 1. Sandeep Kumar (Haryana) 1:20:16 (new national record / old: 1:20:16, K T Irfan, London, 2012 and Devender Singh, Nomi, 2016); 2. Rahul Kumar (Haryana) 1:24:41; 3. Hardeep (Haryana) 1:47:47.

Women 20km walk: 1. Priyanka Goswami (Uttar Pradesh) 1:28:45 (new national record / old: 1:31:29, Baby Sowmya, Delhi, 2018; awaiting ratification 1:29.54, Bhawana Jat, Ranchi, 2020); 2. Bhawana Jat (Rajasthan) 1:32:59; 3. Sonal Sukwal (Rajasthan) 1:36:05.

List of ultra-runners for Global Solidarity Run announced

A press release from the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), dated February 26, 2021 and available on the organization’s website, disclosed the list of ultra-runners selected for the IAU & AFI 6 Hour Global Solidarity Run to be held on 21st March 2021.

According to the release, the following athletes have been selected to run the IAU 6 Hour Global Solidarity Run, slated for 05:30 AM – 11:30 AM IST on the aforesaid date:

Men: Binay Kumar Sah, Sunil Sharma, Amar Singh Devanda, Velu P, Praveen Kumar, Geeno Antony, Amit Kumar, Sampath Kumar Subramanian and Ajit Singh Narwal.

Women: Preeti Lala, Ashwini G, Anju Saini and Aparna Choudhary.

The following athletes have been selected to run the AFI 6 Hour Solidarity Run, also scheduled for the same date, same time:

Men: Badal Teotia, Saurav Kr Rajan, Manoj Bhat and Pranaya Pratap Mohanty

“ In addition, the committee will also invite ultra-runners meeting the criteria to participate in the AFI 6 Hour Solidarity Run,’’ the release said.

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