If cricketers and hockey players can earn big bucks in cash-rich leagues, can athletes be far behind? The last couple of years has seen a growing trend of sprinters in India taking to marathons.
The switch serves two purposes - testing their limits and getting extra money. Last year’s women’s runner-up in Indian Elite category of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, Priyanka Singh Patel used to participate in 200m and 400m before graduating to the 3000m steeplechase. She has been participating in half marathons across the country for the last one year and finishing among the top-3. She admits that the lucrative prize money on offer in marathons is a huge factor for athletes to opt for them — especially considering negligible monetary gains in national meets. “If on participates in four marathons a year and manages to finish in the top-3, you can take home R3-4 lakhs,” she said.
Defending champ Lalita Babbar felt it has not only improved their standard of living but also allows them to buy better equipment. “Shoes are quite expensive and they get worn out in 2-3 months. So I usually use prize money from marathons to buy better running gear,” she said.