Ethiopians shine in Mumbai Marathon

Mumbai, Jan 16 (PTI) Ethiopians Girma Assefa and KorenYal set new course records to complete a sweep for the Africancountry, winning the men''s and women''s honours at the eighthedition of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon here today.

Assefa completed the 42.1-km race in two hours, nineminutes and 54 seconds beating the previous record of 2:11:54sset by Kenya''s Kenneth Mungara two years ago.

He was followed by compatriot Botor Segaye Wolde, whocompleted the run clocking 2:09:57s. Kenya''s Patrick Muriukiwas third with a timing of 2:10:00s.

Two-time winner John Kelai, one of the top favouritesto win the event, finished sixth completing the race in2:11:05s.

In a close-run among at least 15 athletes in the men''scategory, Kenya''s Simon Kasimili had the lead after the six-kmstretch, which he retained after 10kms at Haji Ali. However,at the half-way stage, Kenya''s Kipkemei Mutai surged aheadonly to be overtaken by Muriuki at the end of the iconicRajiv Gandhi Bandra-Worli sea-link.

After the end of the 32-km mark, it was Wolde who raninto contention, but Assefa saved enough energy to move aheadwhen it mattered most and pocketed the title. (More) PTI VKVRSY SSC

In the women''s category, Yal led an all Ethiopian top-three finish to complete the race in 2:26:56s to break thecourse record set by countrywoman Mulu Seboka in 2008.

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

Among Indians, armymen Lyngkhoi Binning, AngadKumar and Ram Singh Yadav finished first second and thirdrespectively.

Thanks to the increased prize money (USD 325,000) andthe IAAF Gold Label status, the event attracted some of theworld''s best male and female long-distance runners. The men''sand women''s winners would get USD 36,000 each.

Unlike in the past, when a huge crowd had cheered theathletes, not many people gathered to witness the event today,though the situation improved during the return leg of therace.

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