Ethiopia’s Cosmas Lagat and Worknesh Alemu, the respective reigning men and women champions of Mumbai Marathon, will return to defend their titles at the 2020 edition of the event on January 19.
The IAAF Gold Label Road Race is one of Asia's leading marathons, and also one of its richest — offering $45,000 each to the men and women's titlists, along with a $15,000 bonus for a course record.
The stoutest field on record
This year's running of the men's event will feature the strongest field ever in India, including 14 men who have run under the two hours and 10 minutes mark. Nine of the runners among the elite pack even have personal best that ranges below the course record set at 2:08:35 and six who are under the super-elite benchmark of 2:07:00.
Like the 28-year-old Lagat, the four fastest men in the field are all Ethiopians, led by Ayele Abshero who has a personal best of 2:04:23.
Lagat won the 2019 event with a time of 2:09:15, 40 seconds short of Gideon Kipketer’s 2:08:35 course record set in 2016. Speaking about returning to the Indian city a year later to defend his crown, Lagat, in a statement released by the race promoters, said: “Coming so close to the course record, I have thought about what I can do to improve, and I think I can run the first half of the race faster than I did last year.”
He will also be hoping to become only the second man to win back-to-back Mumbai Marathon titles in the 17-year history of the race, therefore emulating fellow Ethiopian John Kelai's run through 2007 and 2008.
A tall order for Alemu as well
His compatriot Alemu finished the 2019 running of the women's event with a personal best time of 2:25:25, which she then bettered at the Amsterdam Marathon late last season.
The women's field will be no slouches either, with eight women having clocked under 2:28:00, the fastest among them being Alemu's compatriot Amane Beriso, whose second-place finish at the 2016 Dubai Marathon was achieved with a time of 2:20:48, close to four minutes less than the course record set at 2:24:33 in 2013.