Tanzania’s Alphonce Simbu and Kenya’s Bornes Kitur triumphed at the 14th edition of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2017 on Sunday, winning in 2:09:32 and 2:29:02 respectively to take home first prize cheques of USD$42,000.
Simbu, fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, confirmed his rising status in the world of marathon running by hitting the front with 800 metres to go and sprinting away for victory after a duel over the last five kilometres with Kenyan surprise package Joshua Kipkorir.
After a large group of 13 had passed through the halfway point in 1:04:49 the pace stayed steady to 30km, with the predicted finishing time remained close to 2:10:00, and seven men were still in the leading group at that point.
However, Kipkorir almost immediately injected a change of pace and quickly broke up the pack.
By 35km, Simbu was his only remaining rival. Kipkorir continued to push the pace with Simbu resolutely staying tucked behind him all the way, much to the Kenyan´s frustration as he started to periodically zig-zag across the road from 38km in an attempt to encourage Simbu to the fore.
However, with two kilometres to go, Kipkorir started to look visibly tired while the slighter figure of Simbu was noticeably far more relaxed and apparently just waiting for his moment to strike.
Simbu finally swung past his rival just inside the final kilometre immediately it was obvious he was going to clinch his first international win since 2012.
“I got my tactics from my coach, he said: ‘Use your brain, you don’t have to always lead’” reflected Simbu, explaining his race plan which led to him equalling the second-fastest winning time in the history of the race.
“I prepared well so I didn’t fear anything, whether we were running on the hills or on the flat. This course has some hills and quite a lot of turns so I didn’t break my personal best (of 2:09:19) but what was important today was my position.”
Kipkorir finished second in 2:09:50, taking more than three minutes off his previous best of 2:13:25; third was Kenya’s Eliud Barngetuny in 2:10:39, a personal best by five seconds.
Kenya’s Levy Matebo, the fastest man in the race and one of the pre-race favourites, was one of the victims of his compatriot’s surge just after 30km and drifted back to eventually finish eighth in 2:13:05.
By contrast to the thrilling two-man battle over the final seven kilometres, Kitur stamped her authority on the women’s race soon after the halfway point and ran the majority of the second half on her own.
Four women, including Kitur, passed the halfway point in 1:14:03 but the 21-year-old Kenyan had opened up a lead of around a minute by 30km and kept on extending her advantage over the remainder of the race.
“I was confident I could win because I knew the course after finishing second here last year,” commented the quietly-spoken Kitur after going one better than 2016.
Ethiopian runners took the next two places behind Kitur, albeit at quite a distance. Chaltu Tafa was more than four minutes in arrears but took second in 2:33:03 while Tigist Girma was third in 2:33:19.
Ethiopia’s Dinknesh Mekash, the pre-race favourite and fastest women on the start line as well as being the 2014 and 2015 Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon champion, started to struggle just before the halfway point and finished a disappointing fifth in 2:36:44.
“I got my tactics from my coach, he said: ‘Use your brain, you don’t have to always lead’” ~ Alphonce Simbu
Promoted by Procam International, the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon is one of the largest sporting events in Asia and India's biggest platform for charity.
With total prize monies of $387,000, the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2017 is India’s richest road race. A full prize list can be seen here.
In addition, there were four other associated races on Sunday morning and an estimated 42,000 runners took to the streets of Mumbai in what has become an annual event on the third Sunday of January.