Defending women’s champion Bornes Kitur from Kenya returns, while Ethiopian Solomon Deksisa heads men’s field to the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2018 on Sunday 21 January.
Race promoters Procam International have put together men’s and women’s elite fields of impressive depth with four men who have run under 2:07:00 and another five who have run under 2:09:00, as well as six women who have gone faster than 2:29:00 will be on the start line.
The elite runners will do battle for the US$42,000 first prize cheques (see prize money structure here) in what is anticipated to be a spectacular race played out in front of thousands of spectators lining the course in India’s entertainment and financial hub.
“We are delighted to welcome on board Tata as our new title sponsor, ushering in a new era for the Mumbai Marathon. It’s fitting as this year we are celebrating the landmark 15th anniversary of this iconic event,” said Vivek Singh, Joint MD of Procam International.
“We have yet again increased the overall prize fund, re-inforcing the Tata Mumbai Marathon’s position as one of Asia’s most prestigious road race and one of the leading
marathons of the world.
“We have a stronger mens field this year and I think the men’s course record of 2:08:35 (set in 2016 by Kenya’s Gideon Kipketer), will be under threat.
“The women’s course record of 2:24:33 (set in 2013 by Kenya’s Valentine Kipketer) is probably a tougher proposition but far from unbeatable with the calibre of athletes coming here,” added Singh.
The fastest runner in the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2018 is Ethiopia’s Solomon Deksisa who can boast of a best of 2:06:22, more than two minutes quicker than the course record.
Deksisa, 23, ran that time when finishing second at the 2016 Rotterdam Marathon and after third place in the Toronto Marathon last October, he will be bidding for his first marathon victory in Mumbai.
Ethiopia’s Chele Dechasa and Abraham Girma, and Bahrain’s Shumi Dechasa, the latter running for his country in the last two IAAF World Championships marathons, are the three other men who have run under 2:07:00 in their careers.
However, pundits are pointing towards two other young Ethiopian runners as perhaps the men to spring a surprise on their ostensibly faster rivals.
Yitayal Atnafu, 24, was the 2011 African U20 5000m champion on the track and set a marathon personal best of 2:07:21 when finishing fourth in the Paris Marathon last year. He also finished second in the Houston Marathon earlier last year and, like Deksisa, will be very motivated to get his first marathon victory.
Aychew Bantie, 23, has few international credentials but clocked 2:09:40 in his one and only marathon to date, a high-quality affair in Amsterdam last October, and will have learnt a lot from that experience.
Among the prominent Kenyan runners in the elite field are Joshua Kipkorir and Eliud Barngetuny, who were second and third in last year’s Mumbai Marathon.
The women’s race sees the last two Mumbai Marathon winners return, Ethiopia’s 2016 champion Shuko Genemo and her Kenyan successor 12 months ago, Bornes Kitur.
Genemo had a 2017 best of 2:26:06 at the Vienna Marathon and ran under 2:29:00 in her other two marathons last year, including a win in the Ljubljana Marathon in October while Kitur followed up her win in Mumbai by setting a personal best of 2:29:01 when finishing second in the Sydney Marathon in September
However, the slight favourite on form over the last two years will be the fastest women in the field, Ethiopia’s Amane Gobena. Now 35, Gobena ran her personal best of 2:21:51 when finishing second in the 2016 Tokyo Marathon and returned to the famous race in the Japanese capital last February where she finished third in 2:23.09.
Ethiopia’s Kumeshi Sichala and Tigist Girma retrun to the race havng made the podium in the past, Sichala was second in 2015 and Girma third last year, and will no doubt be able to use their previous expecience to good advantage on race day.
The Tata Mumbai Marathon has a total prize fund of US$405,000 in 2018. As an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, the Tata Mumbai Marathon has established itself as one of Asia’s leading races over the classic distance since it was inaugurated in 2004.
Approximately 46,000 runners will take to the roads in Mumbai for the six different races in what has become an annual event in the city on the third Sunday of January.
In addition to the marathon, there is a half marathon, Dream Run (6.6km), Senior Citizens Race (4.6km), a Champions with Disability Race (2.4km) and, a new race in 2018, the Timed 10K run.
MALE ELITE ATHLETES (with nationality, year of birth and personal best)
- Solomon Deksisa (ETH/1994) 2:06:22
- Chele Dechasa (ETH/1984) 2:06:33
- Shumi Dechasa (BRN/1989) 2:06:43
- Abraham Girma (ETH/1986) 2:06:48
- Tebalu Zawude (ETH/1987) 2:07:10
- Yitayal Atnafu (ETH/1983) 2:07:21
- Evans Ruto (KEN/1984) 2:07:49
- Philip Kangogo (KEN/1983) 2:08:16
- Samuel Mwaniki (KEN/1984) 2:08:56
- Aychew Bantie (ETH/1995) 2:09:40
- Joshua Kipkorir (KEN/1994) 2:09:50
- Eliud Barngetuny (KEN/1987) 2:10:23
- Robert Chemonges (UGA/1997) 2:10:32
- Vincent Kipchumba (KEN/1990) 2:10:32
- Jeffrey Eggleston (USA/1984) 2:10:52
- Shumet Akalnaw (ETH/1988) 2:13:18
- Husen Muhammedamin (ETH/1993) 2:14:19
FEMALE ELITE ATHLETES
- Bornes Kitur (KEN/1988) 2:29:01 (defending champion)
- Amane Gobena (ETH/1982) 2:21:51
- Shuko Genemo (ETH/1995) 2:24:31
- Helalia Johannes (NAM/1980) 2:26:09
- Monika Stefanowicz (POL/1980) 2:28:26
- Kumeshi Sichala (ETH/1995) 2:28:42
- Afera Godfay (ETH/1991) 2:28:46
- Tigist Girma (ETH/1993) 2:29:05
- Kuftu Tahir (ETH/1995) 2:31:27
- Tejitu Daba (BRN/1991) 2:31:32
- Rose Maru (KEN/1987) 2:33:05
- Birke Debele (ETH/1995) 2:40:48
Meet The Authors
Yomog Meje is a former Nigerian junior athlete and the Associate editor at Athletics Africa.