Kenya’s John Kelai believes that he has the experience to once again triumph in the US$ 360,000 prize-money Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon on Sunday, January 19. “I appreciate the opportunity I have got to once again participate in this marathon. I have prepared well for this event. The competition is very strong and I have to go the extra mile to get the result,” he stressed during an interaction with media persons at the SCMM Media Centre on Thursday.
Kelai, a former two-time champion (2008 and 2009) and having run four years in Mumbai, is the most experienced runner in the ‘Elite’ field and he is confident of doing well. “I’ve participated four times in Mumbai and am looking forward to this race. Of all the competitors, I have the best experience and I know how to deal with the heat and I am well prepared. The runners list is long and it will definitely be a good race,” pointed out Kelai, who has a personal best of 2:09.30 set at the 2007 Toronto Marathon.
The Kenyan, who won gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, feels that it would give him the confidence to win this event.
However, he will have to contend with Ethiopian Hailu Mekonnen and South Africa’s Gladwin Mzazi. The Ethiopian’s fastest time is 2:07.35 and he could upset the Kenyan, while Mzazi, who is making his debut in the Mumbai Marathon, has a 7th place finish in 2013 Delhi Half Marathon and is also capable of springing a surprise.
Mekonnen said “I have trained properly and expect a good result. The conditions here in Mumbai are hot as compared to Addis Ababa. The wind in Addis is cool, but I have worked hard and hope to adjust to the conditions to do well,” he stated.
The young South African admitted that he lacked experience but is prepared to have a shot at winning. “I don’t have much experience running the full marathon, but I will try my best to win the race,” he said.
The women’s field will be equally challenging with Ethiopia’s Dinknesh Mekash, whose personal best is 2:25.09 when she finished fourth at last year’s Paris Marathon. “I am glad to be here in Mumbai and will try to lower the course record (2:24.33). I will be trying my best, but God knows who will win,” she said.
Ukraine’s Yulia Ruban and Eunice Kales from Kenya are the ones who would pose a strong challenge to Mekash. The 30-year-old Ruban, who has a personal best of 2:27.00, stated that she has done some hard training back home and is fresh for this race as she has not participated in any event for the last eight months.
Kales is new to Marathon and this event will her third and is hoping to doing well despite not preparing well due to illness. “I am happy to be here and among strong athletes. I was unwell, down with pneumonia two weeks ago and was under medication and could not train well. But I am focused to give my best,” she mentioned.
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