Ethiopian Hayle Lemi Berhanu became only the second athlete to defend the men’s crown in the history of the Tata Mumbai Marathon, a World Athletics Gold Label Road Race, as he successfully crossed the finish-line in 2:07:50.
With today’s victory, Lemi replicated the feat of the Kenyan runner John Kelai who won two back-to-back titles here during 2007-2008.
After winning, Lemi, stated, “ It’s been an amazing run, am feeling extremely good. The best part is the support on the course. I was trying for the course record, but the last few kms were a little tough.
Lemi was among the dozen athletes who set off together in the lead bunch with compatriots Kinde Atanaw, and Haymanot Alew as pacer Dominic Ngeno did the front running. Kenya’s Dickson Kiptoo and Alew briefly took the lead slightly ahead of the others to cover the first 20K in 60:30.
At 30K, the leading group became thinner with Kenyan Joshua Kogo and Ethiopia’s Mitku Tafa remaining with Lemi, Alew and Kiptoo. Both Lemi and Alew increased their pace and broke away from the rest thereafter. Lemi, taking advantage of his previous experience on the Mumbai roads, started running fast and was alone in the last five kilometres. With no one to push him, he had to make his assessment to run the waning stages of the race and hence missed an opportunity to improve his last year's winning time and course record (2:07:32). His teammates Haymnot Alew (2:09:03) and Mitku Tafa (2:09:58) took the next two places on the podium.
Newcomer Aberash wins top prize on her debut
As in the previous edition, the Ethiopians dominated the scene once again and filled the podium spots in both men's and women’s races. While Lemi Berhanu was successful in defending the top spot among men, Anchialem Haymanot could not accomplish her ambition to win another title in Mumbai in the women’s race.
Haymanot, a pre-race favorite for the top spot, was running with the lead group of seven until midway and started showing fatigue thereafter to fall back to finish sixth (2:29:58).
Aberash Minsewo, who made her marathon debut here, started her career as a middle-distance runner and won the World Youth (U18) championships 3,000m gold in Nairobi in 2017. Having pocketed a bronze medal at the same distance in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires the following year, she started taking part in the road races in 2021.
She made her first appearance in India last year. Minsewo finished twelfth in the TCS World 10K in Bengaluru and barely missed the podium on her fourth-place finish in the Delhi Half-Marathon thereafter.
“I was so happy to win my first-ever marathon title on debut”, Minsewo said in the post-event press briefing. With three Ethiopians with similar first names (Aberash) taking the starting line, no one imagined the grand prize would go to the 22-year-old runner. However, Minsewo took the lead right from the beginning to the surprise of the rest and maintained her tempo throughout the race. Her country-mates Ayinadis Teshome, Muluhabt Tsega and Medhin Bejene trying to challenge her in the major part of the race.
With just 2K to go for the finish, Minsewo emerged as a clear leader with Tsega following her behind in a short distance. The winner clocked 2:26:06 to become victorious on her debut with Tsega (2:26:51) and Bejene (2:27:34) completing the podium.
Srinu, Nirmaben top Indian finishers
Bugatha Srinu (2:17:29) and Thakor Nirmaben (2:47:11) were the top Indian finishers among men and women respectively.
Srinu, who hails from Vijayanagaram in Andhra Pradesh, became the first Indian runner to finish within the top 10 in Mumbai with his eighth-place finish today. Nirmaben from Gujarat, who finished 16th here last year improved her position with a 10th-place finish this time and rapidly improved her personal best to 2:47:11 from 3:08:33 last year. The Indian winners took home INR 5,00,000 lakhs each.
Sawan Barwal (1:05:07) and Amrita Patel (1:19:20) took the half-marathon titles in their respective categories.
Elite winners Hayle Lemi and Aberash Minsewo went home with USD 50,000 top prize from a total prize pot of USD 405,000.