The addition of the Bandra Worli Sea Link (BWSL) to the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon route was supposed to churn out faster timings. Instead, it adversely affected the chances of Indian athletes of qualifying for the Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Ram Singh Yadav, who finished second amongst Indians, had crossed the line in 2:18.03 sec last year. This year he clocked 2:21.02 sec. Binning Lyngkhoi was the best Indian runner with a timing of 2:20.12 sec. Both fell short of the qualification mark of 2:19.00 sec.
While Yadav termed running on the link as “tough”, his teammate Angad Kumar was more categorical: “It was uncomfortable because we didn’t have any shade from the sun and the hot wind slowed us further.”
Kumar came in fifth amongst the Indian runners. The pace of the race was also slower with even men’s champion Denis Ndiso of Kenya (2:12.34sec) almost a minute behind the course record of 2:11.51 set by Kenneth Mugara.
For coach K.S. Mathew, the inability of his wards to set faster timings means that their CWG qualification is now in jeopardy. “We don't have any marathon in India now which has a course certified by the IAAF. We have to go abroad and race and there are not enough races for us to do that,” he said.
Race director Hugh Jones also admitted that the conditions were difficult. “The marathoners had to run under the direct sun on the punishing sea link stretch,” he said.
On Sunday, the full-marathon flagged-off at 7:40 am. Jones admitted the late start is not ideal for Mumbai. While the races in New York, London and Berlin start past nine since the temperature is still cool at 10-12 degree Celsius, marathons in hotter countries generally have an early start. That there was no water available for runners on the 5.6 km link stretch only compounded matters.
With inputs from Deepti Patwardhan