Cosmas Lagat defied the hot conditions to win the Tata Mumbai Marathon yesterday in India.
Lagat clocked 2:09.15, the fastest time in history to win the event and pocket Sh4.5 million. The men’s race naturally started steadily and a large pack of 14 runners—including three pacemakers—went through 10km in 30:53; 20km in 1:02:18 and reached the halfway point in 1:05:15.
However, Lagat made a decisive surge just before 29km and quickly put day-light between himself and his rivals, partially splitting up the leading pack. Lagat passed 30km mark in 1:32:34, assisted by two pacemakers whom he kept instructing to go faster, with a chasing pack of seven men just 11 seconds behind.
The remaining pacemakers were to drop out at the 32km mark but Lagat bravely pressed on and kept on increasing the gap, to almost 40 seconds by 35km.
He later admitted that despite feeling strong, he spent much of the final 10km running scared.
“It was a good moment to make a break, but I also knew there were good runners behind me,” he said. “From 35km, I was never sure how close they were to me or whether they were coming back to me,” noted Lagat.
Ethiopia’s Aychew Bantie finished second in 2:10:05 with compatriot Aklnew Shumet placing third in 2:10.14. Kenya’s Daniel Muteti finished fourth in 2:10.55 with Silas Too sixth in 2:12:06.
The women’s race was won by Ethiopia’s Worknesh Alemu in 2:25:45. With temperatures higher than expected and reaching 23C when the gun went off, the leading women started with a flourish and the sizeable leading pack and went through 10km in 34:28 and 20km in 1:08:42.
Four women—Alemu and her Ethiopian compatriots— include pre-race favourite Amane Gobena, Birke Debele and Mergetu Alemu —were still in contention at 30km which was passed in 1:43:14, giving hope that the course record of 2:24:33 set by Kenya’s Valentine Kipketer in 2013 could still be challenged.
Mergetu Alemu soon dropped off the pace and a couple of kilometers down the road so too did Debele. Gobena doggedly held on for 2km more until Worknesh Alemu made a second and decisive surge just before 35km mark. Alemu shook off Gobena but given the credentials of her rival and the intensity of the conditions with temperatures by now having risen to 26C, nothing was certain. Gobena finished second in 2:26:09 with Birke Debala third in 2:26:39.