Assefa leads Ethiopian charge

The 24-year-old Assefa, from Addis Ababa, took the men’s honours and also led a 1-2 sweep for the African nation known for its long distance runners by finishing the 42.195-km course from Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus in south Mumbai to suburban Bandra and back in a new mark of 2 hours, 9 minutes and 54 seconds.

Compatriot Botor Segaye Wolde came in second in a tight finish in 2:09:57 seconds, while Kenya’s Patrick Muriuki secured the third position with a timing of 2:10:00 seconds. All three dipped under the two-year course record of 2:11:51 set by Kenyan Kenneth Mungara.

Delhi Commonwealth Games champion and two-time winner John Kelai belied pre-race expectations and finished a poor sixth in 2:11:05 seconds, also under the old course record, in cool weather conditions that helped the runners.

The Indian Armymen’s trio of Bining Lyngkhoi, Angad Kumar and Ram Singh Yadav swept the top three spots for the home country. Last year’s top finisher Bining Lyngkhoi repeated the feat in a slow 2:21:16 seconds, well off Ram Singh Yadav’s course best of 2:18:03 set in 2009.

Angad Kumar was second (2:24:32) and their Army Sports Institute team-mate Yadav, who has recovered from a hamstring injury, was still good enough to finish third in 2:25:33.

In the women’s category, 24-year-old Yal led an all Ethiopian top-three finish to complete the race in 2:26:56, breaking the course record set by countrywoman Mulu Seboka in 2008 and pick up the winner’s prize of $36,000.

In the half marathon for Indian men, BC Tilak of ASI, Pune won the title in 1:04:45 seconds and was followed in second and third by Soji Mathew (Railways, 1:05:04) and Kheta Ram (ASI, 1:05:32) respectively.

In the corresponding women’s event, Railways runners Priyanka Singh Patel (1:22:34) and Sangeeta Yadav (1:23:45) swept the top two positions, while Maharashtra’s Jayashree Borge grabbed the third spot in 1:24:43.

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