Having already achieved the Olympic qualification standards, the top Indian runners will stay away from the ninth Kolkata Marathon, which is set to be a low key affair this Sunday.
The elite athletes include Girish Tiwari of Air Force, Bengaluru; Bahadur Singh Dhoni of Two Naga Kumaon regiment; another Army runner in Mohammad Yunus; and GB Patil.
The elite runners will look to achieve the magical Olympic cut-off mark of two hour 19 minutes, which incidentally is the course record here, even as this seems a herculean task in a marathon event in March.
In the hot and humid conditions of Kolakta, it remains to be seen whether the course record is bettered. “The full marathon will be flagged off at 5.30am, followed by half marathon at 6 am,” an organiser said.
It is also not clear whether the event will be attended by its brand ambassador and Indian tennis great Leander Paes who wished “good luck” to the participants in a video message at the announcement today. “We’re hoping that he may drop in but can’t confirm at the moment,” an organiser said about Paes participation.
However, the IDBI Federal Life Insurance Kolkata Marathon promises lucrative cash awards with a cool Rs 5.20 lakh for the full marathon winner and Rs 2.60 lakh for the topper in half marathon.
There will also be Open and Corporate Challenge (10 Km) and the Fun Run (5 Km) categories as the organisers are expecting a turnout of about 1500 for the Rs 16 lakh prize money event.
As for the runners, Tiwari with a time of 2:28:01, had clinched the second place in the 5th Vasai-Virar Mayors Marathon November last year.
Mohammad Yunus had finished an overall 20th, third among Indians, with a timing of 1:04:45 seconds at Delhi Half Marathon in November last year.
Bahadur Singh Dhoni was the third fastest Indian with a time of 02:22:41, and overall 13th, in Mumbai Marathon-2015. GB Patil had stood third place in 02:28:09 in Bengaluru Marathon in October last year.