Derara Hurisa didn’t feature in any lists of favourites for the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2020 but the Ethiopian, a late addition to the elite field, upset the odds to win in a course record of 2:08:09 on Sunday.

As a reward for coming home in front of the strongest men’s marathon field ever assembled in India, and running the fastest time over the classic distance ever seen on Indian soil, Hurisa was rewarded with his biggest ever pay day: a US$45,000 winner’s cheque and a US$15,000 course record bonus.

In fact, the amount he picked up on Sunday for his stunning win was more than he had pocketed across his entire previous career. In addition, his victory came in borrowed racing shoes. “I mislaid my shoes while travelling from Addis Ababa to Mumbai earlier in the week so I borrowed some shoes from my friend Abraham Girma (who was also in Tata Mumbai Marathon) so I only tried them on for the first time yesterday,” Hurisa revealed after the race. “As for the money, I was only thinking about running well and trying to win during the race but now I will obviously start planning on what I am going to do with it,” he added.

In a thrilling finish to the 17th edition of the World Athletics Gold Label Road Race, three men approached the last kilometre together but Hurisa went through the gears as the trio passed that check point and he pulled away from his compatriots Ayele Abshero and Birhanu Teshome.

The pair went on to finish second and third respectively in 2:08:20 and 2:08:26, with both men also inside the former course record of 2:08:35.

Prior to Sunday, the 22-year-old Hurisa’s most notable achievement was taking the silver medal in the African Cross Country Championships U20 race four years ago.
His win in the City of Dreams – which certainly lived up to its nickname as far as Hurisa was concerned – was only his second international win, the only other being a low-key half marathon in Turkey in 2017.

The men’s race started at a pace which suggested that a course record was on the cards, helped by weather that was several degrees cooler than usual.
A large group of 18 men, including pacemakers, sped through 10km in 30.01, 20km in 1:00:35 and hit the halfway mark in 1:03:52.

However, as the second half of the race progressed, runners started to regularly drop off the back of the leading pack with the leaders passing 30km in 1:30:52 although eight men still remained in contention at 35km.

As the runners passed the 36km marker, Teshome put his head down and started pumping his arms attempting to almost sprint away from his rivals and although it was a short-lived surge, it had the effect of splintering what remained of the pack.
With four kilometres to go, Hurisa, Abshero and Teshome still had Uganda’s 2013 Tata Mumbai Marathon winner Jackson Kiprop for company and their Ethiopian compatriot Abera Kuma had also worked hard after going through a bad patch and got back in contention.

Abera and then Kiprop became detached with three kilometres to go but the Ethiopian trio stayed together, testing each other, until Harisa made his decisive move.

Kenya’s defending champion Cosmas Lagat had much earlier dropped out injured at around 14 kilometres.
The women’s race also had an engaging story to tell with Amane Beriso coming back after a 15-month injury-induced absence from competition to win the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2020 in 2:24:51.

Despite her credentials as the fastest woman in the field, the fact that she had spent 2019 out of action meant few pundits rated her chances particularly highly but she returned to top-level racing in fine style.

Despite being 38 seconds adrift of race leader Kenya’s Rodah Jepkorir at the 30km checkpoint, with Ethiopia’s defending champion Worknesh Alemu drifting back off the lead and shortly to drop out, over the next kilometre Beriso reeled in Jepkorir and then overhauled the 2019 winner of the Gold Coast and Buenos Aires Marathons.
Once out on her own, Beriso was never challenged and despite looking extremely tired over the final few kilometres, she came home more than two minutes clear of Jepkorir who crossed the line second in 2:27:14 with Ethiopia’s marathon debutante Haven Hailu third in 2:28:56.

“I was nervous to start with because I had spent so long without racing but I started to feeling confident at about 31 kilometres and I was certain I could win from about 36 kilometres,” commented Beriso. “With a kilometre to go, my (male) pacemaker Sylvester Kiptoo was pointing at his watch and was telling me I could still get the course record but I was tired. I tried but couldn’t do it,” she added.

Nevertheless, Beriso will go into the record books as the second fastest woman in Tata Mumbai Marathon history despite finishing 18 seconds outside the 2014 course record of Kenya’s Valentine Kipketer.

Leading results

Men 1. Derara Hurisa (ETH) 2:08:09 2. Ayele Abshero (ETH) 2:08:20 3. Birhanu Teshome (ETH) 2:08:26 4. Jackson Kiprop (UGA) 2:08:41 5. Abdi Ali (BRN) 2:08:56 6. Paul Maina (KEN) 2:09:01 7. Abera Kuma (ETH) 2:09:15 8. Kebede Wami (ETH) 2:10:04 9. Merhawi Kesete (ERI) 2:10:36 10. Bira Seboka (ETH) 2:10:37
Women 1. Amane Beriso (ETH) 2:24:51 2. Rodah Jepkorir (KEN) 2:27:14 3. Haven Hailu (ETH) 2:28:55 4. Fetale Dejene (ETH) 2:30:11 5. Maeregu Hayelom (ETH) 2:31:26 6. Mulu Gadise (ETH) 2:31:53 7. Askale Alemaheyu (ETH) 2:33:05 8. Motu Megersa ETH) 2:36.01 9. Meseret Gebre (ETH) 2:40:14 10. Sudha Singh (IND) 2:45:30
For more information about the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2020, the event website is: procam.in/tatamumbaimarathon