Eighteen-year-olds Sunita Kanna and Savita Kamble finished fourth and fifth in the Mumbai Half Marathon (21.097 km). But the two orphan girls from Sagroli village in Maharashtra’s Nanded district will not get the prize money, said the race manager.
The reason — they could not afford to buy the Rs 200 electronic-timing chip all participants had to wear. Had they run with the chips, Sunita would have won $500 (approx Rs 24,300) and Kamble would have been richer by $400 (Rs 19,400).
The teenagers were part of a 10-member contingent from the Sagroli Sunrise Sports Project, which adopts orphans from the area and trains them for long-distance running. The trust, run by former marathoner Deepak Kanegaonkar, had entered them in the Half Marathon for the first time.
Though disappointed at missing out on the prize money, the girls insisted that they had come to Mumbai to run hard and were happy with themselves. “In hindsight, we can think that we lost some money. But that doesn’t matter. We enjoy running and next time we will have another shot at getting the prize money,” said Kamble.
Their coach Bhagwan Nagargoje admitted that they were aware of the rules but said the trust would have had to borrow money to buy chips and that they decided against it. “We came here to test waters and never expected anything. So we thought why add to our expenses,” he said. “It is my fault.”
Race Manager Homiyar Mistry studied the manual records and confirmed that the girls had finished fourth and fifth, but said they would not get the money. “It was made clear in the rules.”