TMM 2020-Indian Top Elite Athlete Srinu Bugatha, Rashpal Singh, Sudha Singh and Jyoti Gawte at Tata Mumbai Marathon.. Image Source: IANS News

Mumbai, Jan 18 : Defending champion and course record holder Sudha Singh, Srinu Bugatha, Jyoti Gawte and Rashpal Singh are prepared to go head to head over the classic distance in this years Tata Mumbai Marathon and clock a new personal record.

The top contender and crowd favourite is Sudha Singh who won the marathon twice in 2018 and 2019, achieving a personal best timing of 2:34.56 in 2019. Sudha, who won the steeplechase gold at the 2010 Asian Games, is all set to be back in the marathon scene after a break of two months. "Tata Mumbai Marathon will help me add more to training foundation and mentally prepare for future competitions. I have high hopes from the event given the better weather conditions this year. I could feel it during my morning run today though the humidity rose after 7.20 a.m.," she said.

Srinu Bugatha, an armyman from Andhra Pradesh, is ready to set new records thanks to the two experienced pacers that are provided to him by Procam this year. "Running with the two pacers tomorrow will help me attain my best timing," he said. "The Mumbai weather is preferable this year. In cold weather, the lung's capacity for oxygen intake increases which in turn helps in avoiding dehydration.

He continued, "I am aiming for the course record of 2:16. I ran 25K last year in December and I came first. I attained the first position at Airtel Delhi Half Marathon and a good 25K." Three-time titleholder Jyoti Gawte said, "The weather is the same as where I was training before coming here but this year's cool air is definitely a welcome change to last year's conditions. I am aiming to finish the race before 2.45 p.m. and want to give it my best to win the title again." In December 2019, she took part in the South Asian Games and ran 42 km where she stood third with a time of 2:52.00. In the same month she participated in the 21 km in Pune where she finished with a time of 1:20.00 seconds and came second.

She considers Sudha Singh to be the toughest challenger.

This year a Time Performance Bonus has been introduced for the Indian athletes. At the 10km mark, a performance bonus of Rs 40,000 will be awarded. For Indian elite athletes, the cut-off timings are 00:32.00, 01:03.30, 01:35.00 for 10K, 20K, and 30K respectively. Similarly, the cut off timings for Indian elite women are 00:32.10, 01:15.00, 01:51.00, for 10K, 20k and 30K respectively.

Speaking about the "Time Performance Bonus", Rashpal Singh sees it as a good initiative. Rashpal, who didn't get to run with his competitors on Saturday morning said, "Everyone has been telling me that the weather is good this time but honestly it is quite unpredictable due to the constant climate change. He added, "On this route, I have already completed in 2 hr 21 mins and now I will try to finish it within 2 hr 20 mins. I will try my best to pace along with Srinu and won't stop pacing." Rashpal ran the last marathon in December and he believes that it's a bit too early as the proper rest is required for the next marathon. However, he is confident about clocking a good timing in Sunday's run.

Leading the half marathon men's pack will be Shankar Man Thapa, who was the runner-up in 2019. In the women's half marathon, veteran athlete Swati Gadhave will face opposition from 2019 runner-up & winner of the 2018 edition, Monica Athare.

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