Mumbai, Jan 3 (UiTV/IANS) – Ethiopia’s Derara Hurisa returns to defend his crown at Asia’s most prestigious Tata Mumbai Marathon on January 15 in a competitive Elite men’s field, with a dozen runners holding personal bests under the 2:08:09 course record he set in 2020.
The 18th edition of the USD 405,000 prize fund World Athletics Gold Label Road Race takes place after a two-year pandemic-forced break and will also witness over 55,000 amateurs across six categories on its much-awaited return.
The elite men’s and women’s winners will take home USD 45,000 each. The runners will be further incentivised by a Course Record Bonus of USD 15,000.
“I’m up for the challenge and have set my sights on the title,” said Hurisa, who clinched the 2021 Guadalajara Marathon in Mexico in a time of 2:12:28.
Toeing the start line in the men’s section are also Hurisa’s compatriots Ayele Abshero and Hayle Lemi and Kenya’s Philemon Rono, a training partner of the legendary Eliud Kipchoge.
Abshero was runner-up here in 2020, 11 seconds adrift of Hurisa, on an AIMS-certified course that is widely regarded as challenging. Abshero, who finished 10th at the 2022 Linz Marathon in Austria in 2:09:37, has a personal best of 2:04:23, which makes him the fastest in the field.
With a personal best of 2:04:33, Lemi is the second fastest in the group.
“I’m excited about my first Tata Mumbai Marathon. I’ve heard it’s a tough course,” said Lemi, winner of seven marathons, including the Boston Marathon in 2016 and Dubai in 2015. “It’s a tremendous field and is going to be close,” added the Ethiopian, aka Lemi Berhanu, who was runner-up in the 2021 Boston Marathon.
Rono finished an impressive sixth at the 2019 Boston Marathon and won the Toronto Marathon the same year in 2:05:00. He recorded sixth-place finishes at the 2021 Abu Dubai Marathon and the 2022 Seoul Marathon.
In the women’s field, seven runners hold personal bests under the course record of 2:24:33 set by Valentine Kipketer in 2013, with Dera Dida (Ethiopia), Sharon Cherop (Kenya) and Rahma Tusa (Ethiopia) leading the charge on their debut here.
Silver medallist at the 2019 World Cross Country Championships, Dida won bronze in 10,000m at the 2019 African Games. In 2022, she won the Bejaia Half Marathon in 71:17 and finished eighth at the Great Ethiopian Run 10K.
“The Tata Mumbai Marathon has been on my running bucket list for some time. I’ve heard the people of Mumbai and India are very passionate about the running festival, and I look forward to this experience,” Dida said.
Cherop won marathon bronze at the 2011 World Championships and emerged victorious at the 2012 Boston Marathon. In 2022, she finished third at the Nairobi Marathon and the Buenos Aires Marathon.
Tusa took fourth place at the 2022 Sydney Marathon in 2:26:30 and the 2021 Valencia Marathon (in 2:23:20). She was fifth at the 2018 New York Marathon and won in Rome the same year.
Kenya’s Sheila Chepkech, also a first-timer in Mumbai, is the dark horse here. She won the 2022 Nairobi Marathon in 02:27:04. Previously, she finished second at the 2018 Milan Marathon and the 2017 Kosice Marathon. Also in the fray is the 2019 winner Worknesh Alemu of Ethiopia.
Vivek Singh, Jt MD, race promoter Procam International, said: “A truly world-class field will descend in Mumbai for the Tata Mumbai Marathon, a reflection of the event’s stature as one of the top 10 marathons in the world. The TMM returns bigger and better, and the spirit of #HarDilMumbai will burst to life come race day, with runners taking part across six categories.”