Mumbai Marathon opens window of opportunity for Tokyo aspirant Nitendra Rawat

The 2021 full Mumbai Marathon on May 30 will be an Olympic qualifier. It will have limited participants due to COVID.

By Utathya Nag and Naveen Peter ·

The latest edition of the Mumbai Marathon will be held on May 30, organisers said on Tuesday.

An Elite Label (Gold) Road Race, the Mumbai Marathon is one of Asia’s most prestigious events in its category. It features three separate races – the full marathon, the half marathon and a 10 km run. The 5km has been dropped from the latest edition.

The full marathon segment will also serve as an Olympic qualifier for the Tokyo Summer Games, giving Indian runners an opportunity to take home advantage.

Looking to make the most out of the chance will be Nitendra Singh Rawat, the marathon runner who represented India at Rio 2016. Rawat has been out of action for the last two years but is eyeing a return to competitive mode.

“I am excited that there's a race happening in India. Since most of the races outside the country are restricted and getting an invite to those runs is difficult, I think the Mumbai Marathon will be very important for me if I have to make the Olympic cut,” Rawat told the Olympic Channel.

“I have had good memories of running in Mumbai and I hope that I do a good job this time as well,” added the 30-year-old Rawat, who was the best Indian finisher at the 2016 edition of the Mumbai Marathon.

Typically held in January, the May date for this year’s Mumbai Marathon will pose a challenge for the runners.

“In May, we are talking peak summer. And Mumbai summers are usually harsh. The humidity too reaches a high point. I hope I can do well,” Rawat said.

With the Tokyo qualification mark set at 2:11:30, Rawat will need to shed almost four minutes from his personal best of 2:15:18 to make the cut.

“Yes, it seems a bit difficult, but I am confident of going below the qualifying mark. It's all about your fitness and in the past two years, I have worked well on staying in shape and cutting down on my time. Let's hope it all clicks when it matters,” Rawat stated.

Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will have limited participation.

While a few of the elite participants will run from their scheduled location, other participants from India and across the world will be able to run with Mumbai Marathon from a location of their preference, via the official app.

Ethiopia's Derara Hurisa won the 2020 Mumbai Marathon in the men’s category with a record time of two hours eight minutes and nine seconds. Among women, Amane Beriso of Ethiopia took the gold medal with a 2:24:51.