Mumbai, Jan 8 (IANS) Kenyan Evans Cheruiyot, with a personal best of 2:06.25, leads the men’s elite field which has no less than 16 athletes having personal bests of below 2:10, promising a competitive Mumbai Marathon here Jan 19.
Cheruiyot is a former Chicago Marathon winner having run five times below the hour-mark in his career. As the fastest man in the field, he is one of the favourites to run away with the crown.
The second fastest man is Ethiopian Eshetu Wendimu with a personal best of 2:06.46. A steady performer, Wendimu has run most of his marathons below 2:09. Compatriot Hailu Mekonnen is another favourite with a personal best of 2:07.35. Hailu has only run seven marathons in his career from which he has five sub-2:10 times and three sub2:08. He is also the winner of the 2011 Tokyo Marathon and won the 2012 Hengshui Marathon, setting a new course record.
The other men to look out for will be Kenyans Stephen Chebogut, winner of the Istanbul Marathon on a hilly course, Ishhimael Busendich and former Mumbai Marathon winners John Kelai (2007, 2008), Kenneth Mungara (2009) and Girma Assefa (2011).
Among the women, Ethiopian Dinknesh Mekash leads the field with a personal best of 2:25.09. Dinknesh, runner-up last year here, improved her personal best in Paris 2013 and is expected to clock around 2:25 when she runs here.
She leads a strong Ethiopian contingent with names like Etalemahu Kidane (PB 2:25.49), Asnakech Mengistu (PB 2:25.50) and Aberu Mekuria (PB 2:26.07), who also finished third last year.
The Kenyan challenge will come from Eunice Kales and outsider Gladys Kipsoi, making her full marathon debut. Namibian Helalia Johannes and Ukranian Yuliya Ruban are the other names in the reckoning.
There will be six pacemakers in the men’s race and two in the women’s race helping the runners keep to course record pace.