Rio Olympics-bound Asian Games women medalists O P Jaisha, Lalita Babar and Sudha Singh, along with another top distance runner Kavita Raut, are all set to run the full distance at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon on January 17.
Jaisha, last year’s top Indian finisher with a national record to boot on her maiden attempt at the marathon, and 2010 Asiad steeplechase champion Sudha are going to test their mettle in an event in which they have qualified for the Rio Games.
Lalita, who has qualified for the Rio Games in 3,000m steeplechase by setting a new national record of 9:27.86 at the World Championships in Beijing late last year, is also taking part in the marathon, according to race organisers Procam International.
Lalita has been the top finisher among Indian women in the same event three times in the past.
Kavita, medal winner in the 10,000m at the 2010 Commonwealth and Asian Games events and the national record holder in the half marathon, is to compete in the full marathon for the first time, according to the organisers.
Nitendra Singh Rawat, who qualified for the Rio Games by clocking 2:18:06 to finish eighth in the World Military Games marathon in Korea in October last, would be aiming to come out trumps among Indian men runners in the full marathon.
Rawat is hoping to break the current course record of 2:16:59 set by Ram Singh Yadav in 2012.
He’s expected to face a stiff fight from the likes of Arjun Pradhan, second among Indian men runners last year, Gopi T, who placed second at the Delhi half marathon in 2015, Vasai-Virar marathon winner Kheta Ram and another top services distance runner, Elam Singh.
In the half marathon category, Indrajeet Patel is to attempt a hat-trick of men’s titles and is expected to face a good challenge from Soji Mathew.
The women athletes to watch out for in the half marathon are Kiran Sahdev, Supriya Patil and Monika Athare, second place finisher at the Delhi half marathon in 2014.