Kenya’s Cosmas Lagat took charge of the elite men’s marathon, after realising that pre-race favourite Abera Kuma was nowhere in sight, switched gear at the 32-km mark and strode majestically to victory in two hours, nine minutes, 15 seconds in the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019.
Aychew Bante struggled to take second place (2:10:05), one of four Ethiopians in the first five finishers. Shumet Akalnew (2:10:14) was a close third.
Ethiopian Worknesh Alemu, facing a similar situation in elite women’s with Amane Gobena expected to lead the way, kept waiting for the latter to emerge in front. Hesitant to break away, the champion held herself back till realisation dawned that she was alone, and displayed a strong finish in hot and humid conditions for winning time of 2:25:45, Amane a distant second (2:26:09), Birke Debele third (2:26:39).
Africans ran the marathon show, Ethiopians dominated in women and men category, the exception being bold Cosmas, winning on debut in Mumbai. “I want to be known as a finisher,” remarked the Kenyan, once a pacemaker for elite athletes at the 2016 London Marathon. “It was a one-off decision, London Marathon is a big race and it helped get used to the weather. I like to win races.” The two champions earned $ 45,000 each.
Amane Gobena was such a big name in the elite women’s entry list, that fellow Ethiopian Worknesh felt: “I waited for her to hit the front at some point in the race, so played safe and followed the pacemaker. At 34kms, I was feeling fresh and since she was not speeding up, I decided to try and finish.” It was a win on first appearance, second career win after Morocco.
The 2:16 and 2:37 qualification timings decided by IAAF for the Doha World Athletics Championships apply to these Africans also. Competition in Kenya and Ethiopia is so intense, that winning bigger races is on their mind. Both enjoyed the Mumbai experience on debut, especially the women’s winner.