In sport, every second counts. Cliched, isn’t it? Try telling that to Evans Ruto. The Kenyan fell a solitary second short of breaking the course record at the 11th edition of the Mumbai Marathon on Sunday. Ruto won the men’s ‘Elite Marathon’ with a timing of 2:09.33. He will have to wait another year to better 2013 winner, Uganda’s Jackson Kiprop’s, mark.
According to the 30-year-old Ruto, one of the many reasons he could not manage to break the record was the presence of “joggers” on the route. The ‘Amateur Marathon’ started at 5.40 am and hundreds were not even halfway through. It meant the elite marathoners had to avoid many a reveller on the route. And according to Ruto, that is where he lost that split second or two. “Yes, I would’ve broken the record,” Ruto rued. “There were disturbances with the joggers running alongside and it made it a little difficult for me. I’m a little disappointed at not breaking the record, but I’m still satisfied with my timing. I will try and break the record next year,” he added.
Ruto took home a cool purse of $41,000, a figure that is sure to please him, for he has no other job. Had he set the course record, he would have been richer by a further $15,000 All he does is run. As a schoolboy, he used to run six kilometres every day. Married and a blessed with an 18-month-old son, he wants to “use the money for them”. He’ll come back for that record.
Come next year and that will be the challenge, said Jos Hermens of the of Global Sports Communication, the elite athletes’ coordinator. “The crowd was more this year, hence the problem. This issue is not easy to deal with in a city like Mumbai, but you do need cleaner roads for professional runners. It’s a big challenge for the future,” Hermens said.
However, as far as the race was concerned, almost everything went according to the runners’ script. The weather was not too harsh, except towards the end when the sun came out. The pacer-setters, too, did their bit. It wasn’t before the 35th km in the 42.195-km race that Ruto broke from the pack of about 10 runners to take a slender lead.
Keeping him company were compatriots Lawrence Kimaiyo and Philemon Baaru, even as a few others slowed down. The trio ran almost identically, in a triangle, right towards the fag end of the race. But as winners often do, Ruto pushed that little bit hard in the final two kilometres to finish 12 seconds ahead. How he’d have loved it to be 13!.