Kenya`s Ruto, Ethiopian Mekash win Mumbai Marathon

IANS| Updated: Jan 20, 2014, 02:48 AM IST

Mumbai: Evans Ruto led a clean Kenyan sweep in the men’s event of the $360,000 prize money Mumbai Marathon here Sunday.

The 30-year-old Ruto produced a late surge to break away from compatriots Lawerence Kimaiyo and Philemon Baaru to finish first in 2:09:33, a second slower than the course record of 2:09:32 set by Uganda’s Jackson Kiprop last year. Kimaiyo claimed second place in 2:09:45 and Baaru was 13 seconds behind in third position. Ruto won $41,000 for his efforts, but missed out on the course record bonus of $15,000. Kimaiyo had to be content with $21,000, while Baaru was richer by $15,000.

In the women’s event, last year’s runner-up, Ethiopian Dinknesh Mekash, went a step better by clinching first place in 2:28:08, well ahead of second placed Gladys Kipsoi of Kenya and fellow countrywomen Bizunesh Urgesa. The Kenyan, making her debut, finished with a time of 2:29:53, followed by Urgesa in 2:.30:00. Mekash went home richer by $41,000, while Kipsoi received $21,000 and Urgesa got $15,000.

Karan Singh maintained the dominance of the Army Sports Institute athletes as he won the Indian men’s full marathon in 2:24:08. Rashpal Singh of Sikh Regiment, Jabalpur Centre came in second with a 2:24:38, followed by last year’s winner, Binning Lynghkoi (2: 24:40), also from Army Sports Institute.

Lalita Babbar of Central Railway created history completing a hat-trick of triumphs by winning the Indian women’s full marathon in a new record time of 2:50:31, which was a full three minutes better than her time of 2:53:42 she clocked in winning last year. Following the Maharashtra runner were Vijaymala Patil (2:59:58) and Jyoti Gawate (3:02:59) of Prabhani, Maharashtra.

Babbar is not certain of returning to defend her title for the fourth consecutive time next year. “I’m basically not a marathon runner. But three years back I gave it a try and came first and that is what motivated me to continue running the marathon. I have only participated in the Mumbai Marathon. But next year I will decide only after the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland and the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea,” said the Central Railway employee.

The men’s race, aiming for a timing of 2:08, was well within the target in the first half, thanks to the pacers doing their job to perfection. The strong wind on the sea link and the steep Peddar Road Hill on the return leg took its toll as the pace flagged a bit.

Ruto, who was in the lead bunch along with his fellow Kenyans, picked up the pace after 35 kms and the race was once again within record time at the 39km mark. Ruto once again changed gears to widen the gap between the other two Kenyans and held on to win.

The women’s race was aiming for 2:25 time and there was a group of around nine women till the 22km mark, among them all the favourites, running strongly with the two pace makers. The strong wind on the sea link also proved tough for them. At the 26km mark there were four women in the lead, among them Dinknesh, who was always in control of the race. From 28km Dinknesh broke clean and ran alone to finish strongly.