It’s clearly the most awaited date in the city’s calendar, the third Sunday of January each year, and has been for the last 12 years. In its 13th year, it was no different as more than 40,000 runners took the streets of Maximum City, in a display of tremendous grit and endurance. At 5.40am, the Half Marathon runners set off from the Worli Dairy at Worli Sea face on their 21km journey, as the amateur runners took off for the 42km from the magnificent Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. With plenty of Indian and international talent on display, Mumbaikars reveled in the glory of the beloved 2016 Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.
Kipketer, who started the race as a pace-setter, clocked 2.08.35 hours as he ran a blistering second leg to break the three-year-old record set by his Kenyan counterpart Jackson Kiprop in 2013.
Talent from India too shone bright this Sunday morning as multiple men and women athletes were placed in the top ten in the overall race standings, with all six Indian men and women podium finishers securing a qualification at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Nitendra Singh Rawat, who never shies from sporting some style for an Army man, put in a rockstar like performance as he clipped a minute and 11 seconds from Ram Singh Yadav’s record of 2.16.59 set in 2012.
Gopi T, was a pace setter for the Indian men till the 30th km mark, but he felt strong and finished 27 seconds adrift of Nitendra. He clocked 2:16.15 and that is, like the elite men, better than the previous course record for Indian men. In the overall standing, he finished 11th. Kheta Ram, who finished third with a timing of 2:17.23, made the cut for Rio where the qualifying mark is 2.19.
Though the female athletes were running together till the halfway mark, Kipketer, lost a lot of energy in trying to catch up with Shuko, finally finished in 2.34:07. She is the older sister of men’s winner Gideon making the Kipketer family a happy family.
Sudha Singh beat her two training partners but was way off the course record as she swept home in 2:39.28. She also finished seventh overall, earning herself some bonus.
Lalita Babar finished second in 2:41.55 while last year’s winner OP jaisha came in third in 2:43.26.
All the three Indian women have of course qualified for the Olympics though both Jaisha and Lalita have made their preference for track pretty well known.