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Mumbai Marathon set for another Kenya-Ethiopia rivalry

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

The metropolis is set to witness another intense rivalry for top honours between Kenya and Ethiopia tomorrow when the USD 3,60,000 prize money 11th Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon is flagged off from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.

Kenyans have dominated the men's section over the last 10 years, winning seven, while Ethiopians have lorded over the women's event, also with seven titles. The latest edition also promises another hot contest in cool conditions.

Kenya's two-time champion and Delhi Commonwealth Games gold medal winner John Kelei is bidding to turn back the clock and prove that age has not diminished his skill and stamina in the gruelling 42.195-km distance.

The 37-year-old veteran has won the event back-to-back in 2007 and '08, was third behind compatriot Kenneth Mungara, who, too, is in the fray this year, in 2009 and was runner-up the next year before clinching the CWG gold in Delhi.

Kelei is aiming to send a strong signal to his country's athletics federation by his performance here to allow him a chance to defend his CWG title in Glasgow, UK in July-August.

"That's my primary target. There are so many challengers, hundreds of them, in Kenya, but I want to defend my Commonwealth Games title in Glasgow. If I can win in hot and humid conditions here I can do better in colder Glasgow. Mumbai is a lot tougher and I want to do well and send a strong signal to the federation," Kelei said two days ago.

However, he can expect tough competition from former Chicago Marathon winner and compatriot Evans Cheruiyot, who has a personal best of 2:06.25, the fastest in the men's field which has 16 runners who have clocked 2:10 or below.

The second-fastest is Ethiopian Eshetu Wendimu, with a personal best of 2:06.46, while 2011 champion Girma Assefa of Ethiopia is also in running for the top prize of USD 41,000.

As far as Indian men are concerned, there is a strong contingent of Services runners -- including multiple-time national best timers Ram Singh Yadav and Binning Lyngkhoi -- who will compete for the top prize of Rs 5 lakh.

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First Published: Sat, January 18 2014. 14:55 IST