Julius Sugut ran a well-paced race to win the second Mumbai International Marathon on Sunday.
The lanky Kenyan, who has a personal best of 2:10.33 seconds, finished the gruelling 42.195 kms race, from Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus to Bandra Reclamation and back, in two hours, 13 minutes and 20 seconds.
In the process, he bettered the existing mark of 2:15.47 seconds, clocked by South Africa's Henrik Ramala while winning the first edition last year. Sugut had then timed 2:16.36 seconds while finishing second.
Christopher Isegwe of Tanzania, who finished nine seconds behind, and Gashaw Malese of Ethopia (2:13.59 seconds) completed an African sweep, placing second and third respectively. All three runners bettered Ramala's time.
Mulu Seboka of Ethiopia won the women's marathon, clocking 2:35.03 seconds. Countrywoman Leila Aman, who led for most of the race, finished second in 2:36.19 seconds while Irina Timofeyeva of Russia was third in 2:36.42 seconds.
As many as 1,028 men and women took the start for the full marathon, which was flagged off by Maharashtra Governor S M Krishna at 7.40 am, with the elite list comprising 124 men and 41 women.
Sugut, who is known as the nearly man in the marathon circuit after finishing second in many events in the last two seasons, stayed in the pack of elite runners, who were paced by Kenya's Simon Tanui, for an hour and a quarter, till Malese broke away at the Bandra turn. Striding rhythmically, he overtook Malese before the Worli seaface stretch and never looked back thereafter, pumping the air in triumph 100 metres from the finish.
"If the weather is as it today, I'll be able to clock an even better time," said Sugut, who became richer by $30,000 after the triumph.
It was a keen tussle for second place as Isegwe and Malese exchanged the lead at regular intervals at Marine Drive, but the Tanzanian's better staying power stood him in good stead as he worked up a pace 100 metres from the end to finish smartly.
The women's marathon was a two-horse race between Seboka and Aman. It was Aman who held the early initiative as her long strides enabled her establish a handsome lead over the Seboka and the rest of the field. But at Worli, on the return leg, the hot pace that she had set took its toll and she literally wobbled. It appeared she would drop out. The pint-sized Seboka passed her and cantered away for the top prize of US $20,000.
Men's marathon: 1. Julius Sugut (Ken) 2:13:20 secs, 2. Christopher Isegwe (Tan) 2:13:29, 3. Malese Gashaw (Eth) 2:13:59, 4. Colin Khozza (RSA) 2:14:46, 5. Onesmus Kilonzo (Ken) 2:15:27.
Best Indian performances: 1. Balaram Shri Gulab Singh 2:25:27 secs, 2. Nathu Ram 2:25:49, 3. Sahariya Bipul 2:26:12.
Women's marathon: 1. Mulu Seboka (Eth) 2:35:03 secs, 2. Leila Aman (Eth) 2:36:19, 3. Irina Timofayeva (Rus) 2:36:42, 4. Madina Biktikarova (Rus) 2:37:17, 5. Tatyana Hladyr (Ukr) 2:37:58).
Best Indian performances: 1. Indresh Dhiraj 3:04:33 secs, 2. Leelamma Alphonso 3:05:50.
Men's half marathon: 1. Deep Chand (Ind) 1:07:11 secs, 2. Jagannath Lakde (Ind) 1:07:57, 3. P Nagendra (Ind) 1:08:20.
Women's half marathon: 1. Tegla Loroupe (Ken) 1:18:50 secs, 2. Madhuri Gurnule (Ind) 1:21:59, 3. Hemkumar Goswami (Ind) 1:26:02.
PHOTOGRAPH: Jewella Miranda