Gopi Thonakal, Sudha Singh excel in tough conditions at Mumbai Marathon

Updated on Jan 22, 2018 09:34 AM IST
Gopi Thonakal, the winner of the Asian marathon title in November, put up a great display in the Mumbai Marathon while Sudha Singh overcame cramps to finish the race.
Gopi Thonakal finished Sunday’s race in 2:16:51, edging out Nitendra Singh Rawat by just three seconds in what was an evenly-matched contest between the two Olympians(Twitter)
Gopi Thonakal finished Sunday’s race in 2:16:51, edging out Nitendra Singh Rawat by just three seconds in what was an evenly-matched contest between the two Olympians(Twitter)
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | ByHT Correspondent

Gopi Thonakal and Sudha Singh were the best Indian runners at the Mumbai Marathon on Sunday morning in the men and women’s categories respectively.

Nitendra Singh Rawat, who holds the course record among Indian men at the Mumbai and Delhi’s marathon circuits along with Jyoti Gawte, who were both champions in 2017 here, finished second this year.

The third positions in both categories were taken up by two full marathon debutants. In the men’s, Srinu Bugatha finished the race in 2:23:56 while, in the women’s, Parul Chowdhary completed it in 2:50:47.

Gopi, the winner of the Asian marathon title in November, finished Sunday’s race in 2:16:51, edging out Rawat by just three seconds in what was an evenly-matched contest between the two Olympians. The tight contest was decided only over the last 200 metres or so.

The duo, who finished 11th and 12th in the overall rankings, said their next target was to qualify for the Commonwealth Games when they turn out at the Delhi Marathon.

“The last stretch is all about explosiveness. Whoever has more speed and power prevails,” said Rawat after his narrow defeat. “That was the difference between us. We both tried hard though.”

“I was running for the record from the start and it was going well,” said Gopi. “Our pacer, however, slowed down in the last 12 kms. So we were alone after 30km.”

“That was where I lost the record chance, so I knew I had to finish first,” he added as being the main reason that spurred him to victory.

Sudha Singh managed to come out on top despite ending her run in extreme distress. She crossed the finish line in two hours, 48 minutes and 32 seconds, visibly suffering from intense pain.

“It was a very difficult race. I ran the first 21km at my pace and it was going well,” said Sudha. “Between the 21-25km marks my whole body began to cramp. It got tougher and tougher as the temperature began to rise. I have run many marathons but this is the first time I was cramping like this. My pacer (Hendrick Ramaala) did try to encourage me but my body wasn’t with me. I just wanted to finish the race whatever the outcome,” she added of her experience.

“I have been training in Dharamshala for the past year. Maybe it was the drastic change in weather. In the first hour I was on track, so it was the heat that got to me,” she said.

Jyoti Gawte, who finished her run in two hours, 50 minutes and 47 seconds, was humble of her second-placed finish. “It was an honour to run alongside such great runners,” said Jyoti.

Echoing most leading runners’ sentiments on Mumbai’s weather, Rawat and Singh said the organisers of this race should try and start the race at least an hour earlier, as compared to Sunday’s 7:10am start.

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