In the last five years, the country has witnessed a surge in prize money for road races. But the influx of money hasn't contributed to the growth of distance running. However, the phenomenon is not specific to India.
It has been noticed globally that prize money races are not
Hugh Jones, the Airtel Half Marathon race director, says, "Prize money events create awareness among masses and people compete for various reasons, but they are not improving the performance of elite runners in the country."
Performances not improving
The former British distance runner is right. Jones, the winner of the London Marathon in 1982, had timed 2:9:24.
Incidentally, his country is home to several prize money events, including the global major - London Marathon.
A case in point is British's best marathon runner, Merrien Lee, who does not figure in the top-100 in world rankings this year. Moreover, his best time of 2:13:41 isn't close to Jones's three-decade-old time of 2:9:24.
Even England's top half marathon runners - Christopher Thompson (61:23) and Scott Overall (61:25) don't figure in the world's top-100.
The case is similar, says Jones, in other European nations and the US, another hub of the road race circuit. "The issue of performance should be addressed by the federations of respective countries."
KS Mathews, coach of Olympian Ram Singh Yadav, echo's Jones's views.
"We have to be more professional in our approach while chalking out our plans," he says.