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Kelai favourite while Indian men aim to qualify for Olympics

Mumbai: Kenya`s John Kelai, a two-time title
holder and gold medallist at Delhi Commonwealth Games, starts
as firm favourite for the men`s top prize of USD 36,000 in
tomorrow`s 8th Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon that offers
a total prize pool of USD 325,000.

Kelai, who won here in 2007 and 2008, leads the strongest
ever men`s field in the history of the event.

But the CWG gold medallist can expect tough challenge
from the likes of compatriots Evans Rutto and Justus
Kipshirchir, with personal bests of 2:08.36 and 2:10.6
respectively.

Ethiopia`s Tesfaye Tola, Qatar`s Kenyan-born Mubarak
Shami, who won the 2007 Paris Marathon, and Russia`s Oleg
Kulkov are among the others who will be eying for the title.

The cooler weather this year is expected to be conducive
for a record-setting run with the course record of 2:11.51 set
by Kenyan Kenneth Mugara in 2009 seemingly under threat.

Defending champion, Ethiopia`s Bizunesh Urgesa, and
her compatriot Haile Kekebush, winner in 2009 and runner-up
last year, are the leading contenders for the women`s crown.

The women`s field too has ten athletes who have personal
bests of 2:30 or less. The existing course record of 2:30.04
standing in the name of Ethiopia`s Mulu Seboka since 2008 is
also under threat.

The Indian challenge for the men`s top prize of USD 6,000
(awarded for the best men`s and women`s finishers from the
country) will be led by the army`s trio of Lyngkhoi Binning,
who took the honours last year with a timing of 2:20.12, Ram
Singh Yadav - best Indian finisher in 2007, `08 and `09 - and
Angad Kumar.

PTI

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