Avinash Sable, a 3000m steeplechase runner, will be the one to watch out for at the Mumbai Marathon 2020 after he became the first Indian after 1952 to qualify for the Olympics last year in his discipline.
The national record holder had clocked 8 minutes 21.37 seconds to breach the Olympics qualifying standard of 8:22.00 and broke his personal best of 8:25.23 in the process.
The half-marathon event will see Avinash Sable facing competition from Shankar Man Thapa, who was the runner-up in 2019 in the World Athletics (IAAF) Gold Label Road Race.
The full-marathon event will see Olympian and Arjuna Awardee Sudha Singh, winner in 2016, 2018 and 2019, aiming for a hat-trick this year. She will, however, see a stiff challenge by the 2017 Mumbai Marathon winner Jyoti Gawte.
The number of runners for the event on 19th January has increased exponentially this year with a 35 per cent surge in women participants.
India’s women’s half-marathoner list includes veteran Swati Gadhave alongside the 2019 Mumbai Marathon runner-up and winner of the 2018 edition, Monica Athare.
Elite list of full-marathoners
Winners of the full marathon from the last edition, Cosmas Lagat of Kenya and Worknesh Alemu of Ethiopia, will be competing again next Sunday. The winners in the men and women singles marathon event are slated to win $45,000 each, apart from the $15,000 bonus for a course record.
In 2019, Cosmas Lagat had broken away from the rest at around 29kms into the race to win with a time of 2:09:15, which was just 40 seconds behind the course record set by Gideon Kipketer in 2016. Worknesh Alemu’s time of 2:25:45 in the full-marathon last year is also the second-fastest in Mumbai Marathon’s history in the women’s category.
Hit and miss in India’s contention
Amongst India’s full-marathon participants are Army's Srinu Bugatha, Rashmal Singh, Rahul Pal and more. Srinu Bugatha won the Delhi Half Marathon and Kolkata 25K last year, while Rashmal Singh was the silver medallist in the Kathmandu South Asian Games 2019 along with Rahul Pal, who had also won the Pune International Marathon 2019.
A huge miss from the event will be defending champion in the Indian men's category and one of India's leading long-distance runners, Nitendra Singh Rawat, who had to pull out of the Mumbai Marathon after he was unable to recover from injury.
The 17th edition of the Mumbai Marathon will see 9,660 runners in the full marathon, 15,260 in the Half Marathon, 19,707 in the Dream Run, 8,032 in 10K, 1,022 in the Senior Citizen Run and 1,596 runners in the Champions with Disability category.