Mumbai, Jan 13 (PTI) Even though happy at winning hisfirst major marathon title by bagging the gold at theCommonwealth Games (CWG) in New Delhi, Kenyan John Kelai,however felt that absence of spectators along the route in thecapital because of security reasons was a big let down.
"The difference between Mumbai (where he has won twice inthe past) and Delhi is while the CWG race (in October, 2010)was quiet and serene because of the tight security, in Mumbaithe spectator participation uplifted the runners," said the34-year-old Kenyan athlete at a press conference here today.
Kelai, who won the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon in2007 and 2008, is among the favourites to win the 8th editionof the richest prize money marathon in Asia on January 16 butcan expect tough competition from the strongest-ever men''sfield for the event.
Kelai said that the mass participation in Mumbai boostedthe morale of the elite runners and the cheering of the crowdalong the route gave them a fresh impetus especially on thereturn stretch where the racers have to negotiate the Kemp''sCorner flyover.
"The last part of the race in Mumbai has ups and downsand the cheering from the spectators gives us a big moraleboost. That is the difference between Mumbai and Delhi," saidKelai who clocked 2 hours, 12 minutes and 3 seconds whenwinning here in 2007 and 2:12:27 while holding on to his titlein 2008.
The Mumbai race offers USD 325,000 prize money with themen''s and women''s full marathon winners taking home USD 36,000each, an increase of USD 5,000 from the 2010 race.