In a sport that tests endurance, character and spirit and is dominated by Kenyans, no one expected an unknown Ugandan to crunch a gruelling 42.195km of the Mumbai Marathon into the fastest ever 2.09.56 hours.
Twenty-six-year-old Jackson Kiprop grabbed the gold, clocking the fastest ever in the history of the Mumbai Marathon in his first attempt at the full race. Kiprop entered the race as a pacemaker to gain experience for future full marathons. Rarely have pacemakers gone on to win the race in any edition across the world. On Sunday, Kiprop made an exception to this phenomenon to clip 24 seconds of the course record in his first full marathon.
Kiprop was inspired by his training partner Stephen Kiprotich’s London Games gold medal-winning performance, Uganda’s first marathon yellow metal in Olympics. Both Kiprotich and Kiprop train in high altitude conditions of Kaptagat, Kenya. “I have been training for three months with Kiprotich,” Kiprop said after winning the race.
He used to train alone until he met his coach Richard Mettow. The training included running six days a week, twice a day with a 5 km run in the morning. In the evening he would pack in a 50-minute run. Each day would have a different kind of a training regimen to forge his muscles for endurance. He is now planning to take a shot at the World Championship to be held in August. Interestingly, when he runs, he keeps his right thumb up because folding it hinders his ergonomics.
Kiprop broke away from the rest, including defending champion Laban Moiben of Kenya, at the turn on Babulnath Road-Marine Drive on the return leg with about 5km to go for the finish line. Until then forming the lead pack along with Abraham Girma (Ethiopia), Elijhah Kemboi (Kenya), Jacob Cheshari (Ethiopia) and Kiprop, Moiben was expected to have it easy. l Turn to p4
But in the long stretch at the Queen’s Necklace, Moiben could not keep pace with Kiprop and Cheshari. He ignored the rare occasion when Cheshari went past. The tired legs of the Ethiopian held him back as Kiprop outpaced the rest to breast the tape in 2:09:32 hours. Cheshari followed next 11 seconds behind. Kiprop admitted that he did not think of finishing the race as there was no water when he required.
“At 35km, I saw myself out of the race. I wanted water but there was none. I continued and once I had water, I was ok and carried on,” the winner of $40,000 said. The prize will help him “construct a decent house for myself and my family”. He has a large family to support and move into the city from the suburbs back home.
In what was perhaps the coolest morning of all the Mumbai Marathons, the conditions were still humid for the athletes towards the end. Coming from her debut marathon in the cooler climes of Hamburg last year, in which she timed 2:28:02, Valentine Kipketer still finished four minutes better for a new course record. Yet the 20-year-old Kenyan said that had it not been so hot, she could have done better. “I want to improve my time. I can run sub 2:22 in the future,” she said confidently.
Glam quotient cheers for Mumbai
John Abraham, Juhi Chawla, Sujal Shroff, Ashmit Patel, Kunickaa Lall, Sanjeev Kapoor, Rohini Hattangadi, Tara Sharma, Dia Mirza, Shantanu Mukherjee, Abhijit Sawant, Purab Kohli, Anand G Mahindra, Anil Ambani, Tina Ambani, Dino Morea, Rajneesh Duggal, Rahul Bose, Sharman Joshi, Vivek Oberoi, Sakshi Tanvar, Gulshan Grover, Kalki Koechlin, Liza Hayden, Milind Soman, Vidya Malvade, RBI governor Dr Duvvuri Subbarao, Chhagan Bhujbal, Governor K Sankaranarayanan and Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh
All for a cause:
The participants highlighted various causes ranging from female foeticide to saving tigers to good health through the marathon
40k: Approximate number of people who took part in the 10th edition of the Mumbai Marathon on Sunday
340: Number of disabled who took part in the annual event
1k: Policemen were deployed to ensure there was no untoward incident during the marathon