The 14th edition of Standard Chartered Mumbai International Marathon was concluded on January 15, 2017. City Road Races have acquired tremendous global popularity and International Association of Athletics Federations has labeled the Mumbai event as the Gold Label Road Race since 2010. Mumbai road race is owned by city-based sports management company Procam International Pvt. Ltd and since its inception; it has been sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank. Procam is also the owner of other road races in India like Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, Tata Consultancy Services World 10K Bangalore and Tata Steel Kolkata 25K. While the Marathon runs by male and female athletes become parts of large Road-Race agenda, city races attract participation from public. Run in the 12 million megacity, Mumbai Marathon has always been eagerly awaited by Bollywood celebrities, industrialists, amateur athletes and a vast section of people from all walks of life. Besides the 42.195 km Marathon, Mumbai races also include Half Marathon (21.097 km), Dream Run (6 km), Senior Citizens’ Run (4.3 km), and Champions with Disability run (2.4 km). In 2013, Mumbai recorded the fastest time by women Marathon winner Valentine Kipketer. She covered the distance in 2:24:33. Three years later in 2016, another Kenyan Gideon Kipketer broke the men’s record by clocking 2:08:35. Last Sunday, men’s Marathon was won by Tanzania’s Alphonce Simbu while the women’s winner was Bornes Kitur of Kenya. Of Indian runners, Kheta Ram was the winner in men’s elite category while Jyoti Gawte took the honor among Indian women.
Race enthusiasts in Mumbai wait for the city’s signature event, the Mumbai Marathon, held on third Sunday of the New Year. Besides serious Indian contenders, world-famous athletes also grace the occasion. The island city bears a colorful look on the Marathon day with enthusiastic onlookers lined up on either side of the road for cheering the runners. On January 15, the main event was flagged off from the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in South Mumbai at 7:20 AM. In a long race such as the Marathon, predicting the winner is difficult at the start. The Marathon running is not merely a matter of an athlete’s speed and stamina; sound technique plays a vital role. Therefore, when Uganda’s Ezekiel Chepkorom took an early lead, nothing could be said about where the Ugandan will finally finish. Pretty soon Chepkorom lost his lead to Kenya’s Michael Mutai. Among women, the early leader was Kenya’s Bornes Kitur. As the race progressed, Ezekiel Chepkorom snatched the lead back from Michael Mutai and he was still the leader at the halfway mark. But both Chepkorom and Mutai dropped back soon afterwards as another Kenyan Joshua Kipkorir surpassed them. In women’s section, Bornes Kitur continued to lead. Kipkorir knew that a big group of 13 runners was close by and he did his best to keep himself abreast of others. After 30km, the top pack was reduced to seven men but Kipkorir still led the race. When 35km mark was crossed Kipkorir faced a threat from Tanzania’s Alphonce Simbu. But the Kenyan kept pushing himself and didn’t allow Simbu to overtake him.
After the 40km mark, Kipkorir gave visible signs of tiredness, while the slightly built Simbu looked relaxed. In the final kilometer, Simbu broke away by generating the extra pace, passed Kipkorir and clinched his first international victory since 2012. In clocking 2:09:32, the Tanzanian missed the all-time mark at Mumbai by a little less than one minute. Joshua Kipkorir had to remain content with second-place finish in 2:09:50. Another Kenyan Eliud Barbgetuny was third in 2:10:39. Women’s elite Marathon was won by Bornes Kitur of Kenya in 2:29:02. Ethiopia’s Chaltu Tafa was second in 2:33:03 while another Ethiopian Tigist Girma finished third in 2:33:19. That race remained close at the halfway mark, when the top three women all clocked 1:14:03 but Kitur finally pulled away from the two Ethiopians to emerge victorious. Among Indian participants, Kheta Ram was the winner in 2:19:51 but couldn’t equal his Personal Best of 2:15:26 that he did at 2016 Rio Games. Bahadur Singh was a close second in 2:19:57 while Manipur’s Sanjith Luwang finished third in 2:21:19. Maharashtra’s Jyoti Gawte topped India women’s Marathon with 02:50:53, ahead of West Bengal’s Shyamli Singh, who clocked a poor 3:08:41. First-time Mumbai runner, Ladakh’s Jigmet Dolma finished third in 3:14:38.
Tamil Nadu’s G Lakshmanan won men’s half-Marathon in 1:05:05 while second and third places were taken by Sachin Patil in 1:06:22 and Deepak Kumbhar in 1:06:28. The half-Marathon among women was won by Maharashtra’s Monika Athare in 1:19:13. Minakshi Patil was second in 1:20:53 and Anuradha Singh finished third in 1:25:20.
Serious competitions aside, Mumbai Road-Race was not short of passion on a festive Sunday. 921 senior citizens came out on city streets and among those runners, 284 were women. But the show stealer was Malegoan’s 103-year-old Dagdu Bhamare. The old man’s son-in-law told media that Bhamare walks 4 kilometers each day and runs around 5 km every week. Mumbai resident 69-year old Sudhir Kesari came out dressed as a mobile device with pictures of several e-wallets to convey the impact of demonetization on senior citizens. 65-year old Upendra Thanawala was dressed as Mahatma Gandhi and did his race barefoot. Throngs of cheering spectators also saw top industrialists like Anil Ambani and Sajjan Jindal, Bollywood actors led by Rahul Bose and several other celebrities. Like in the past, John Abraham remained the face of the 2017 Mumbai Marathon.