January 6, 2019
Mumbai: Race promoters Procam International have once again brought some of the world’s top road runners to India to contest the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race and one of Asia’s leading marathons, on Sunday 20 January.
In 2018, Ethiopian athletes took the honours in the City of Dreams with victories in both the men’s and women’s races and runners from this country head the elite fields this year.
Leading the men’s list, which contains four runners who have run under 2:08:00 and 11 under 2:09:00, is Abera Kuma.
Kuma, 28, ran his personal best of 2:05:50 when finishing second in last year’s Rotterdam Marathon and in that sort of form could certainly challenge the TMM course record of 2:08:35 set in by Kenya’s Gideon Kipketer in 2016.
The Ethiopian is hoping that success in the TMM 2019 will help him book a place in the Ethiopian team going to the IAAF World Championships in Doha later this year, having already been part of Ethiopian teams at the 2011 and 2013 world championships on the track as well as two IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
Kuma will be racing in India for the first time but will have got some useful advice about what to expect from his younger sister Dibaba Kuma, who was an impressive winner at the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K last month.
One man who has experience of Mumbai and indeed India, having raced in the country several times before, is Bahrain’s Shumi Dechasa, who finished fourth in last year’s race.
The 29-year-old Dechasa is the second fastest man in the field with a best of 2:06:43 and has been a top 15-finisher at the last two world championships, including fifth place in 2015. He will be looking to make the TMM podium, at the very least, after the disappointment of just missing out on a top-three place 12 months ago.
Another runner to highlight in this year’s men’s elite field is Ethiopia’s Aychew Bantie. He finished fifth in Mumbai last year, at the time only his second marathon, but then reduced his best to 2:08:15 when finishing second at the Kosice Marathon in October.
Nine men in this year’s race have personal bests faster than the course record and will be motivated by the fact that a US$45,000 first prize cheque, for both men and women, is on offer in India’s richest road race. (See prize money structure here.)
Amane Gobena is not only the defending champion in Mumbai but will also be the fastest woman on the TMM 2019 start line opposite the famous Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.
Now 36, the Ethiopian is still a force to be reckoned with. She ran her personal best of 2:21:51 when finishing second in the 2016 Tokyo Marathon and in addition to her TMM 2018 win, she also finished third in the renowned Prague Marathon last year.
The formidable TMM women’s course record of 2:24:33 has stood to Kenya’s Valentine Kipketer in 2013 but Gobena showed that it could be challenged in 2018 when she ran the second fastest winning time ever, crossing the line in 2:25:49.
in what is anticipated to be an enthralling and entertaining contest in front of tens of thousands of spectators lining the course in India’s entertainment and financial hub, two previous Mumbai women’s winners have returned to try to regain their crowns.
The Ethiopian pair of 2016 champion Shuko Genemo – who finished third at the TMM 2018 but later in the year ran a season’s best of 2:26:10 when finishing fifth in a very high- quality Ljubljana Marathon – and her two-time predecessor in 2014 and 2015, Dinknesh Mekash will be part of a large contingent of Ethiopian runners in the women’s race, six of whom have run under 2:27:00.
Among that group is the 23-year-old Birke Debele who finished fourth in Mumbai last year but improved her personal best to 2:25:28 when finishing second in the Hamburg Marathon last April.
“This is the 16th edition of the Tata Mumbai Marathon and I think this may be the best elite field we have had,” said Vivek Singh, Jt. MD of Procam International.
“Having had the race recently elevated to IAAF Gold Label Road Race status confirms its position as India’s iconic marathon event and one of the leading marathons in the world.
“Every year, we at Procam International set the bar a little higher in a bid to bring the best athletes to India and stage the best athletics events in the country. I can look down the list of international runners who will be coming to Mumbai and feel excited about watching these elite runners, race for glory on home soil.”
The TMM 2019 Event Ambassador will be India’s own six-time world amateur boxing champion Mary Kom, who also won the 2018 Commonwealth Games light-flyweight gold medal in addition to a myriad of continental titles and a 2012 Olympic Games bronze medal.
MALE ELITE ATHLETES (with nationality, year of birth and personal best)
Abera Kuma ETH/1990 2:05:50
Shumi Duchasa BRN/1989 2:06:43
Jacob Kendagor KEN/1984 2:07:33
Elijah Kemboi KEN/1984 2:07:34
Cosmas Lagat KEN/1995 2:08:14
Aychew Bantie ETH/1995 2:08:15
Kipkemoi Kipsang KEN/1990 2:08:25
Silas Too KEN/1988 2:08:26
Abdi Ibrahim Abdo BRN/1997 2:08:32
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir MON/1981 2:08:50
Shumet Akalnew ETH/1988 2:08:50
Ayenew Mekuant ETH/1991 2:09:00
Eliud Barngetuny KEN/1987 2:10:15
Derese Reta ETH/1997 2:12:05
Deresa Geleta ETH/ 2:12:33
Daniel Muteti KEN/1994 debut
FEMALE ELITE ATHLETES
Amane Gobena ETH/1982 2:21:51
Dinknesh Mekash ETH/1985 2:23:12
Shuko Genemo ETH/1995 2:24:31
Birke Debele ETH/1995 2:25:28
Melesech Tsegaye ETH/1994 2:26:44
Worknesh Alemu ETH/1990 2:26:50
Mergertu Alemu ETH/1997 2:28:08
Tejitu Daba BRN/1991 2:28:50
Failuna Matanga TAN/1992 2:30:00
Almaz Negede ETH/1987 2:30:33
Zinash Gerado ETH/1998 debut