Solomon Deksisa arrived here as a firm favorite for the Tata Mumbai Marathon, stamped his authority, and became only the second Ethiopian to win the men’s title, staving off a spirited challenge from compatriot Shumet Akalnaw and Kenyan Joshua Kipkorir.
The 23-year-old Ethiopian clocked 2:09:34s, 3:12s off his personal best achieved as a runner-up at the Rotterdam marathon two years ago.
But Deksisa had enough reasons to celebrate; it was his first title in six races.
Amane Gobena made it a memorable day for the Ethiopians, winning the women’s title.
Deksisa may be a far cry from the likes of the legendary Abebe Bikila, who ran barefoot, and the magnificent long-distance runner Haile Gebrselassie, but he was the cynosure of all eyes once the Elite runners crossed the red-line start near about the CSMT.
The three podium finishers censured the pacesetters — Kenyan Jacob Kendagor, Ugandan Ezekiel, and South African Xolisa Tyali — for not being up to the mark and also pointed out instances of amateur runners straying from their path and proving to be a hindrance.
But, on an eventful Sunday when the temperature hit its peak in the morning hours, Deksisa was all by himself from the 35km mark, shrugging off a gallant attempt by the 29-year-old Akalnaw on the return Marine Drive stretch.
With the field comprising runners with excellent credentials to bring down Kenyan Gideon Kipketer’s course record of 2:08:35s set in January 2016, there was much suspense as Deksisa looked at his watch, took a few swigs from the water bottle, and began his final kick on the concrete surface across the Arabian sea, some 2km from the finish.
But, he gave up with happy thoughts of going to win his maiden marathon and keeping track of the immediate challenger, Akalnaw.