The enhanced prize money and the IAAF Gold Label status of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2012 has attracted a field of the world's best male and female elite athletes, who will run on the streets of Mumbai on January 15, 2012.
With the course records going below 2:10 for men and 2:30 for women for the first time last year in eight years, the focus this time has been to assemble a field that will make a serious assault on further lowering these marks and going by the current field and if the weather is kind, that seems a strong possibility.
While the men's field has 17 Gold Label athletes, with personal bests of below 2:10, the women's field has 7 such athletes, with personal bests of below 2:30.
The Ethiopians and Kenyans will renew their rivalry here once again, with Siraj Gena leading a talented bunch of Ethiopians and the Kenyan challenge will be spearheaded by names like Laban Moiben, former World champion Luke Kibet, William Kipsang and Bernard Kosgei. Giving the Kenyans and Ethiopians a run for their money will be Moldovan Iaroslav Musinschi, the fastest European of 2010 with a timing of 2:08.32 clocked in May 2010.
The women's field, which saw a clean sweep by the Ethiopians last year, will once again see strong representation from Ethiopia, with Makda Harun and Fatuma Sado leading the charge. The Kenyan challenge will come in the form of Lydia Rutto, while Namibia's Hilalia Johannes will also be a name to look out for.
The fastest in the men's field is Kenyan Kipsang, with a personal best of 2:05.49, set in 2008, but the athletes in current form are Ethiopians Gena, who clocked 2:08.31 in Frankfurt on October 30, 2011, Gela Hailu, who clocked 2:10.17 in Italy on November 27, 2011 and Gemedu Haja, who clocked 2:09.20 in Korea in April. Among the current Kenyans in form are Moiben Laban, who clocked 2:10.18 in May in Ottawa, Nixon Machichim, who ran 2:09.37 in Linz in April, John Kyui, who clocked 2:09 in Zurich in April and Luke Kibet.
Among the women, Makda Harun has run a fast 2:27.30 in Venice in October 2011, while Sado Fatuma has run 2:28.01 in Istanbul, also in October. The Ethiopians can expect to be challenge by Turkey's fast improving Sultan Haydar, Namibia's Johannes Hilalia, who clocked 2:30.35 in Dublin and Russia's Tatyana Vilisova.
Already the richest marathon in Asia, the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2011 will now offer an enhanced prize purse of USD 340,000, an increase of USD 15,000 over what was on offer last year.
The increase in prize money is in keeping with the stature of the event, tagged as amongst the top ten marathons in the world and hopes to attract an even more illustrious field of elite athletes.