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.)

PREETI LALA WINS 24 HOUR MUMBAI STADIUM RUN

Preeti Lala (Photo: courtesy Preeti)

Deepak Bandbe wins in 100 km category

Preeti’s mileage is the second best by an Indian woman in the 24-hour category so far

Preeti Lala emerged the overall winner of the Ageas Federal Life Insurance 24-hour Stadium Run held in Mumbai over February 6-7, 2021.

Thane-based Preeti, the sole woman running the 24-hour race category at the Mumbai event, finished way ahead of the rest of the field, covering a distance of 193.60 kilometers during the allotted time of 24 hours. It is the second best by an Indian woman in the race category so far. It was also the maximum distance covered across both genders in the given race category, at the Mumbai stadium run. 

Apoorva Chaudhary holds the national best of 202.212 km, set during the 2019 IAU 24-hour World Championships held in Albi, France. During the same event, Priyanka Bhatt had finished with a distance of 192.845 km. It is this mark that Preeti has bettered.

In the 24-hour category at the Mumbai event, Parwinder Singh was the winner among men with 154 km covered. Buddhi Saini finished second (151.60 km) and Munir Kulavoor third (150 km).

Deepak Bandbe, running in the 100 km category at the Mumbai event, finished the race in seven hours, 57 minutes and 47 seconds. It is the third best finish so far for Indian men in the 100 km category.

Sandeep Kumar had set the national best in 100 km – 7:56:22 – at the Bengaluru Stadium Run held on January 23 and 24, 2021. At the same meet, Abhinav Jha had secured the second best male performance in the same category with a timing of 7:57:35.

In the 100 km category for men in Mumbai, Nilesh Yadav finished second with timing of 8:27:28. Aaditya Dattaram Badavate placed third with 9:24:20. In the 12 hour-category, Sandel Kisan Nipane (120.80 km) was the winner among men. He was followed by Raman Baisla (119.60 km) and Ankur Lakhera (112.80 km). From among women, the winner was Reena Maru (98.40 km). She was followed by Mahek Makhija (95.60 km) and Corina Van Dam and Pooja Varma (both 82.80 km). The Mumbai event was organized by NEB Sports.

Preeti started her run at 6PM on February 6, 2021. “ I did not have any target except that I wanted to be on my feet for the entire 24 hours,” she said.

Deepak Bandbe (Photo: courtesy NEB Sports)

Participants were few as there was uncertainty about the event taking place, she said. Training could have been better but the uncertainty affected it. Still, she had moderately good training sessions for three months with average mileage of 100-120 kilometers per week.

Over 2020, training for most runners was impeded by the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Preeti’s last run before the lockdown was in the 50 km category at Tata Ultra of February 2020.

Getting back to training after the lockdown induced-break, Preeti chose to run the Run to the Moon challenge organised by NEB Sports. “ The challenge required us to run a distance of 2 km to 10 km daily. This helped me get back into rhythm,” she said. She also participated in TCS 10k virtual run.

“ I am happy that the event (Mumbai Stadium Run) took place finally. The weather was mostly humid especially during the night but early mornings were quite cool. We had several hours of scorching sun,” Preeti said.

“ The excellent arrangements at the venue with volunteers and runners supporting me during the race, helped immensely,” she said.

Apeksha Shah and her husband, both runners, provided substantial support to Preeti. “ Also, Pranaya Mohanty, ultra-runner from Bengaluru, ran with me for the last 20 km,” she said.

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

AT A GLANCE / JANUARY 2021

Jim Walmsley (This photo was downloaded from the athlete’s Facebook page)

100K / Walmsley misses world record by 11 seconds

Ultramarathon runner, Jim Walmsley of the US, broke the American record but narrowly missed setting a new world mark in the 100k at the Project Carbon X 2 event organized by Hoka One One in Chandler, Arizona on January 23, 2021.

Walmsley covered the distance in 6:09:25. The world record of 6:09:14 set in 2018 is held by Japan’s Nao Kazami. The previous American record was 6:27:44, set by Max King in 2014, Runner’s World said in their report on Walmsley’s performance.

At the Chandler event, the runner finishing second behind Walmsley was Rajpaul Pannu. He finished in 6:28:31. According to an article in Runner’s World dated June 4, 2019, Pannu made his marathon debut in a timing of 2:17:06 at the 2017 California International Marathon; it gained him a berth for the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials. At the subsequent trials, he finished 63rd, the magazine’s report on the Chandler event, said. For more on Pannu, please click on this link to access the Runner’s World article: https://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/a27632323/rajpaul-pannu-olympic-marathon-trials-qualifier/

The women’s race was won by Audrey Tanguy of France; her timing was 7:40:36 (source: Athletics Weekly).

Indian runners dominate SAAF elite category of 2021 Dhaka Marathon

Indian long distance runners dominated the SAAF (South Asian Athletics Federation) elite category of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Dhaka Marathon held on January 10, 2021. The said category covers runners from SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries.

In the women’s section of the SAAF elite category, Jyoti Gawate of India secured second position covering the distance in 3:00:16 hours. Fellow Indians Divyanka Chaudhary (3:07:41) placed third and Jigmet Dolma (3:09:41), fourth. The category was won by Nepal’s Puspa Bhandari in 2:59:41. 

In the men’s segment of the SAAF elite category, the top three positions were swept by Indian runners. India’s Bahadur Singh Dhouni (2:21:40) topped the segment. Second place went to Rashpal Singh (2:21:41). Het Ram (2:25:23) finished third while Manvendra Singh (2:36:48), also of India, finished fifth. Fourth place in the category went to Kiran Singh Bogati Rajwar (2:26:13) of Nepal.

According to a report in the Dhaka Tribune, the overall winner of the elite category was Hicham Laqouahi of Morocco; the winner in the women’s elite category was Angela Jemesunde of Kenya. Thirty five international runners including 23 elites from France, Kenya, Ethiopia, Bahrain, Belarus, Lesotho, Ukraine, Spain and Morocco and 12 from Maldives, Nepal and India, participated in the marathon.  Around 200 runners participated in the event organized by the Bangladesh Army, the report said.

Swimming pools permitted for use by all

In its latest guidelines for relaxing the lockdown triggered by COVID-19 last year, the central government has said that swimming pools will soon be accessible to all users.

Currently the use of pools is restricted to competition swimmers.

“ Swimming pools have already been permitted for use of sports persons. Now these will be permitted for use of all, for which a revised SOP will be issued by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in consultation with MHA,” a Press Trust of India (PTI) report on the latest guidelines, published January 27, 2021 and available on leading news websites, said.

According to it, the new guidelines will be effective from February 1, 2021.

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

AT A GLANCE / DECEMBER 2020

2020 World Athletes of the Year: Mondo Duplantis and Yulimar Rojas

Mondo Duplantis. This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of the athlete and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended.

Mondo Duplantis of Sweden and Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela have been named the male and female World Athletes of the Year at the World Athletics Awards 2020, a report on the website of World Athletics said. The ceremony was held virtually on December 5.

“ Duplantis broke the world record in the pole vault twice, topping 6.17m and 6.18m on back-to-back weekends in February just a few weeks before the global coronavirus pandemic ground the sporting world to a halt. When competition finally resumed, Duplantis capped his season and produced the highest outdoor vault of all time (6.15m) and finished the year undefeated in 16 competitions. Duplantis, who celebrated his 21st birthday last month, is the youngest athlete ever named World Athlete of the Year,’’ the report said.

Yulimar Rojas. This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of the athlete and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended.

On Yulimar Rojas, it said, “ Rojas broke the South American indoor triple jump record in her first competition of the year, reaching 15.03m in Metz, France. In her next competition, at the World Athletics Indoor Tour meeting in Madrid, she leaped 15.43m in the final round of the competition to break the world indoor record by seven centimetres. She competed just twice outdoors, winning the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco and again in Castellon, Spain, where she sailed 14.71m, the farthest leap in the world outdoors this year.’’

Incidentally, the Coaching Achievement Award was won by Helena and Greg Duplantis, the parents and coaching team behind the success of Male World Athlete of the Year Mondo Duplantis. “ While the pair take on many roles, Helena, a former heptathlete, mainly helps with her son’s conditioning while Greg, a 5.80m pole vaulter in his prime, assists with technique,’’ the report said.

World Athletics approves a change to shoe rules

World Athletics has approved a change to its rules governing development (prototype) shoes following requests by all major shoe manufacturers and the industry body that represents them, the World Federation of the Sports Goods Industry (‘WFSGI’).

According to press release available on the website of World Athletics, “the amendment to the rule will allow development shoes to be worn in international competitions and competitions sanctioned by Member Federations where World Athletics rules are applied, prior to their availability to other athletes, upon approval of the shoe specifications by World Athletics. These shoes will have to meet the same technical specifications as all other approved shoes.

“ Development shoes can continue to be worn in any competition where World Athletics’ competition and technical rules are not applied. The amendment, approved by World Athletics’ Council on 4 December, applies with immediate effect, to competitions sanctioned by World Athletics, Area Associations or Member Federations at which World Athletics’ Competition Rules and Technical Rules are enforced, but will not be permitted to be worn at the World Athletics Series or the Olympic Games. The development shoe can only be worn for a 12 month ‘development’ period.

“ A list of approved development shoes will be posted on the World Athletics website stating the date from which the development shoe can be worn and the expiry date for approval. To date there is a list of 200 (spikes and non-spikes) approved shoes listed and published on the World Athletics website.

“ This new proposal will be complemented by an athletic shoe availability scheme for shoes which is being developed by a Working Group on Athletic Shoes with representatives from shoe manufacturers and the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI).’’

The attached summary of notes explained, “ “Development shoe” means a shoe (i.e. spike or road shoes) which has never been available for purchase but which a sports manufacturer is developing to bring to market and would like to conduct tests with their sponsored athletes (who agree to test the shoe) on issues such as safety and performance before the shoe is available for purchase.’’

According to it, development shoes are not required to be made available for purchase or subject to the availability scheme provided that, prior to being worn for the first time, the development shoe meets the following conditions:

  • The athlete (or their representative) must submit the specification to World Athletics and, where requested, provide a sample of the development shoe for further examination which includes, if necessary, cutting up the shoe, and provide the date and event of the first competition at which the athlete wishes to compete in a development shoe
  • Confirm the latest date upon which the sports manufacturer will make the final version of the development shoe available for purchase which must be not be later than 12 months after the first time the development shoe is worn in a competition.
  • The athlete (or their representative) submits to World Athletics a list containing the date and event of the first and all subsequent competitions at which the athlete proposes to wear a development shoe within the 12 month period. The athlete (or their representative) must notify World Athletics of any changes to that list.
  • The athlete (or their representative) has received prior written approval from World Athletics that the development shoe complies with the requirements of Rule 5 of the Technical Rules and is approved for use in competitions.
  • Subject to compliance with all rules and regulations (including this Rule 5 of the Technical Rules and these notes), performances achieved by an athlete wearing a development shoe will be valid. After the conclusion of a competition a development shoe must be handed over by the athlete on request by World Athletics for further investigation by World Athletics which includes, if necessary, cutting up the development shoe.
  • World Athletics will publish from time to time on its website a list of approved development shoes stating the date starting from which the development shoe can be worn and the expiry date for approval. No technical or proprietary information belonging to a sports manufacturer will be published.
  • After the expiry date specified the shoe no longer qualifies as a development shoe and can no longer be used in competitions. The shoe will be removed from the approved list after its expiry date and, subject to compliance with all rules and regulations (including this Rule 5 of the Technical Rules and these notes), results achieved by an athlete wearing the development shoe will remain valid.
  • In accordance with the rules and regulations, World Athletics reserves the right to classify a result as ‘Uncertified’ (‘UNC TR5.5’) or declare the athlete’s performance as invalid for non-compliance with Technical Rule 5.

Asha Singh (Photo: courtesy Asha)

Asha Singh wins 100 km Lucknow stadium run event

Asha Singh, 55, won the woman’s race in the 100 kilometers stadium run held at Lucknow on December 6, 2020. She completed the distance in 12 hours and 33 seconds.

Among men, Amar Shivdev was winner in the same category. The event was organized by Wellness Lucknow.

Asha had only recently recovered from shoulder dislocation caused by a vehicular accident in the US. Her tryst with recreational running started in 2016 when she participated in a 10 kilometer-run in Pune, where she was residing with her husband, Bajrang Singh, now a retired army officer. Bajrang is also a recreational runner.

Though bereft of exposure to sports in the preceding years, Asha took to long-distance running enthusiastically. Over the past four years, she has participated in 19 full marathons and secured podium finishes in her age category in 14 of them, she said.

For the stadium run, her training was inadequate. “ I was in Delhi with my daughter, who had given birth to a child. I did some 10-kilometer and 20-kilometer runs,” she said.

Asha was keen to do the 100 kilometer-race. “My husband told me I am not ready for it. But having enrolled I just decided to go and run and see how far I will sustain,” she said.

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