Cities stage marathons to project to the world a shiny image, parading internationally-acclaimed athletes through routes that showcase their most tourist-friendly sights. But usually, advertising completely overwhelms local iconography.
It was no different at the SDAT-Chennai Marathon, flagged off by Mayor M. Subramanian here on Sunday morning. On their turnaround for the start of the second lap, the runners would have witnessed not just the Triumph of Labour, one of Chennai's most distinctive bits of statuary and the centrepiece of the event's logo, but also, dwarfing the statue from just a few feet away, the triumph of commerce — a gigantic inflated bottle depicting the marathon's ‘official' sports drink.
Kenya's Augustine Rono must have imbibed copious amounts of it, considering how little fatigue he displayed upon completing a breezy 2h 14m 45s run to take the Rs. 1 lakh winner's prize, finishing 12 minutes and 40 seconds ahead of his nearest rival Santosh Kumar. The Varanasi-born Santosh had won the Marg-Chennai Half-Marathon in September 2008.
Augustine's margin of victory was remarkable, considering that he landed in Chennai only on Friday morning, and had little time acclimatising to conditions markedly different from Kenya's high altitudes. “It was very humid, very hot,” he said. “But you have to persevere. There are no shortcuts. But it was great to run here, with the Chennai crowd cheering all the way.” The conditions certainly had an effect upon his timing. In December, he won the Pune Marathon clocking 2:13:05s, over a minute and a half quicker than his timing here.
The half-marathon saw Uttarakhand's Ellam Singh and Uttar Pradesh's Sudha Singh take the men's and women's titles.
The results: Marathon (42.2km): International: 1. Augustine Rono (Kenya) 2h 14m 45s, 2. Santosh Kumar (Uttar Pradesh) 2:27:25, 3. Moses Daiema (Kenya) 2:31:26.
National: 1. Arvind Kumar (Uttar Pradesh) 2:27:36, 2. Vipul Sahari (Hyderabad) 2:38:32, 3. R. Prakash (Karnataka) 2:39:15; State: 1. G. Lokaraja 2:32:57, 2. G. Kumar 2:41:58, 3. T. Rajesh 2:44:06.
Half marathon (21.1km): Men: National/International: 1. Ellam Singh (Uttarakhand) 1:07:04, 2. Borappa (Bangalore) 1:07:06, 3. Nicholas (Kenya) 1:07:22; State: 1. Raghu 1:07:16, 2. Ajit Singh 1:08:21; T. R. Rajesh 1:09:21.
Women: National/International: 1. Sudha Singh (Uttar Pradesh) 1:16:34, 2. Mildred Chebosis (Kenya) 1:17:26, 3. P. Lakshmi (Tamil Nadu) 1:33:43; State: 1. M. Sudha 1:22:10, 2. P. Dhanalakshmi 1:28:38; 3. B. Shanthi 1:32:12.
Mini Marathon (10km): Men: 1. Sandeep Kumar 29m 49s, 2. Suji Mathew 29:49, 3. Sunil Fatan 30:33; Women: 1. Kiran Tiwari 37:00, 2. P. Rani 38.12, 3. Pon Kavitha 38:38.
Mini Marathon (5km): Boys: 1. R. Vijayan 16:03, 2. M. Sathish Kumar 16:06, 3. P. Karthi 16:21; Girls: 1. P. Dhanapriya 19:14, 2. G. Kerchiyal 19:49, 3. S.C. Sushila 20:08.
Corporate Marathon (5km): Men: 1. Vairavanathan, 2. B. Giridhar, 3. Harihar Sudhan; Women: 1. K. Ramya, 2. G. Vanitha, 3. S. Divya Shafeela.