Ethiopians Assefa, Yal dominate Mumbai Marathon

Mumbai, Jan 16 (PTI) Ethiopians Girma Assefa and KorenYal led a near clean-sweep of the men''s and women''s top threepositions in the USD 325,000 eighth Standard Chartered MumbaiMarathon here today besides spearheading a successful assaulton the course records in both events.

24-year-old Assefa from Addis Ababa took the men''shonours and also led a 1-2 sweep for the African nation knownfor its long distance runners by finishing the 42.195-kmcourse from Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus in south Mumbai tosuburban Bandra and back in a new mark of 2 hours, 9 minutesand 54 seconds.

His compatriot Botor Segaye Wolde came in second in atight finish in 2:09:57s, while Kenya''s Patrick Muriukisecured the third position with a timing of 2:10:00s. Allthree dipped under the two-year course record of 2:11:51 setby Kenyan Kenneth Mungara.

Delhi Commonwealth Games champion and two-time winnerJohn Kelai belied pre-race expectations and finished a poorsixth in 2:11:05s, also under the old course record, in coolweather conditions that helped the runners.

The Indian Armymen''s trio of Bining Lyngkhoi, AngadKumar and Ram Singh Yadav swept the top three spots for thehome country. Last year''s top finisher Bining Lyngkhoirepeated the feat in a slow 2:21:16s, well off Ram SinghYadav''s course best of 2:18:03s set in 2009.

Angad Kumar was second in 2:24:32s and their ArmySports Institute teammate Yadav, who has recovered from ahamstring injury, was still good enough to finish third in2:25:33s. The trio''s timings were well off the London OlympicGames qualifying mark of 2:18 set by the Athletics Federationof India, which has not notified the Mumbai Marathon this yearas part of its designated qualifying races. (More) PTI VKV SSRRSY SSC

"The weather conditions were good. The pace setters did a good job," said Assefa, who also went under his previouspersonal best time of 2:09:58s set in Berlin two years ago.

Today, he had run only his fourth marathon and the victorymade him richer by USD 36,000.

In the women''s category, 24-year-old Yal led an allEthiopian top-three finish to complete the race in 2:26:56,breaking the course record set by countrywoman Mulu Seboka in2008 and pick up the winner''s prize of USD 36,000.

Merima Mohammed was second clocking 2:29:04s, whileElfemesh Alemu finished third with a timing of 2:30:04s.

"The weather conditions were good though it became a bithot later on. It was windy too which was helpful," said Yal,who idolises her countryman and legendary runner HaileGebrselassie.

The men''s race was a close one among a bunch of 15runners. Kenya''s Simon Kasimili set the early pace and ledafter the six-km stretch, which he retained after 10kms atHaji Ali.

However, at the half-way stage, his compatriot KipkemeiMutai surged ahead only to be overtaken by Muriuki at the endof the iconic Rajiv Gandhi Bandra-Worli sea-link.

After the end of the 32-km mark, it was Wolde who raninto contention, but Assefa saved enough fuel in his tank tomove ahead when it mattered most to clinch the title.

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