Ethiopian runners took both the men’s and women’s Tata Mumbai Marathon titles 12 months ago and pre-race favourites Abera Kuma and Amane Gobena sounded confident that the top honours at this IAAF Gold Label road race in the City of Dreams will stay with athletes from the East African nation on Sunday (20).
Kuma comes to Mumbai as the fastest man in the field with his 2:05:50 personal best set in Rotterdam Marathon last April.
“I have been training very well again and I feel I can run faster than that time,” Kuma said, speaking at a pre-race press conference today. “Maybe it will be difficult to run as quickly as that here, but I am in good shape.”
He added that he has put behind him the disappointments of failing to finish in both the Berlin and Abu Dhabi Marathons during the last four months and had come to Mumbai to get his first victory over the classic distance since his 2015 Rotterdam Marathon win.
The quietly-spoken Kuma, whose younger sister Dibaba Kuma was an impressive winner at the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K last month, hinted that in addition to the USD $45,000 first prize cheque he was hoping to pocket an additional USD $15,000 for setting the course record which currently stands at 2:08:35 by Kenya’s Gideon Kipketer in 2016.
Pundits predicted that with Kuma’s credentials, both on the road and the track – which include a 10,000m personal best of 26:52.85 – that mark could be in danger on Sunday.
His compatriot Amane Gobena knows what it takes to win in Mumbai after having triumphed here in 2018.
Gobena is not only the defending champion but will also be the fastest woman on the start line opposite the famous and iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.
Now 36, she ran her personal best of 2:21:51 when finishing second in the 2016 Tokyo Marathon but continues to be a top-class runner. In addition to her win here, she also finished third in the Prague Marathon last year.
The formidable women’s course record of 2:24:33 has stood to Kenya’s Valentine Kipketer since 2013 but Gobena showed that it could be challenged in 2018 when she ran 2:25:49, the second fastest winning time ever.
“I enjoyed last year’s race a lot and I’ve been looking forward to coming back here. I may be 36 but I am still running well, and my legs feels a lot younger,” she joked.
“It has to help that I raced here last year. Experience is so important in the marathon and that includes experience of the races where you run,” added the amiable Gobena, who gave the impression of being very relaxed on Friday.
Phil Minshull (organisers) for the IAAF