Mumbai, Jan 21 (PTI) Ethiopian runners expectedly dominated the Mumbai Marathon as defending champion Hayle Lemi Berhanu and Aberash Minsewo won the men's and women's titles respectively, here on Sunday.
Among Indian men, Srinu Bugatha recorded the best finish with a timing of 2:17:29 and was followed by Gopi Thonakal (2:18:37) and Sher Singh Tanwar (2:19:37).
The top 10 elite men's runners featured two Indians with Srinu placed at the eighth spot and Gopi at the 10th.
"I was aiming for the course record but the last five kilometres were not good," Indian Army's Srinu told media after his win, adding that he was not aware of marathon racing until 2013 but he has been working hard to improve his timing.
Gopi and Srinu were together until the 27 kilometre mark but the former faced fitness issues and was forced to take a few breaks.
"I was cramping, I had to stop for a bit for stretching and then I continued," Gopi told media.
In the men's elite event, Lemi recorded a second consecutive win in the gold label race with a timing of 2:07:50. Haymanot Alew (2:09:03) came second while Mitku Tafa (2:09:58) finished third.
Lemi said he was aiming for the course record too but missed beating the mark in the last three kilometres or so.
However, he enjoyed a massive gap between him and the second-placed Alew in the ending stages, which he credited to being focussed on beating the course record.
"I was focussed on beating the course record and nothing else. That helped me in building such a big gap,” Lemi told PTI.
Lemi became only the second athlete in the history of the race to win with a time of two hours and seven minutes.
Among women, Minsewo clinched the gold medal with a timing of 2:26:06 while compatriots Muluhabt Tsega was second with 2:26:51 and Medhin Bejene 2:27:34 came in third.
While the victory was more memorable for Minsewo for the fact that she won it on her debut at the race, it was a special finish for the third-placed Bejene.
In a final thrust, Bejene gained 28 seconds in the last two kilometres to move to the third spot from the fourth.
Nirmaben Thakor Bharatjee was the first among the Indian women runners to finish the elite race with a timing of 2:47:11, which was personal best for the 26-year-old.
"I had to move from Gujarat to Nasik since my results were not good enough back home. But the move has helped me clock results consistently," said Nirmaben, whose father is a farmer. She had to work hard to arrange funds for her training.
"I wanted to finish the race in around 2 hours 40 minutes or so but could not push towards the end," added Nirmaben, who now aims to get her numbers in range of the Olympic qualification mark.
The silver medal went to Reshma Kevate who clocked 3:03:34 while West Bengal's Shyamali Sing took the bronze medal with 3:04:35.
In the men's half marathon, Sawan Barwal clinched the gold with Kiran Matre and Mohan Saini finishing second and third respectively.
Amrita Patel won the women's half marathon while Poonam Sonone came second and Kavita Yadav took the third spot. PTI DDV AT AT