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Kolkata stop-over for Rio-bound trio before Mumbai marathon

Lalita Babar

Kolkata : Fresh from setting up a national record at the Delhi Half Marathon, ace Indian long-distance runner Lalita Babar will set her sights on a maiden win at the ‘Tata Steel Kolkata 25K’ here tomorrow.

Besides the main 25km race, which will be flagged off at 6.30 am, the Rs 22.80 lakh event will be held across three more categories of Senior Citizen’s Run (4km), Champions with Disability (4km) and Ananda Run for 5km.

The starting and finish points of all the events will be at the Red Road and about 10,000 runners from different walks of life are expected to run in the wintry Sunday morning.

A three-time winner at the Mumbai Marathon and a national record holder in the 3000m steeplechase, the 26-year-old will have her Rio Olympics-bound Railways colleagues OP Jaisha, a marathon national record holder, and Sudha Singh in company in the second edition of the meet.

Keen on winning the Mumbai marathon for a fourth successive time, Lalita will be running the 25km race for the first time and will look to take it easy.

“I just ran the Delhi Half Marathon 20 days ago so there’s little time to recovery. I’ve not set any target here… The focus is on Mumbai (January 17),” Lalita, an Asian Games 2014 bronze-medallist and the reigning Asian Championship 3000m steeplechase winner, said.

Lalita set a half-marathon national record in Delhi clocking 1:10:52 as she along with Jaisha and Sudha finished 1-2-3 on November 2. The trio, coached by Belorussian Nikolai Snesarev, will start favourites in a small elite women’s field of 14 runners.

Reigning champion Kavita Raut, an Asian Games 2010 silver medallist in 10,000m, will be missing in action this time.

Guangzhou Asiad gold-medallist in 3000m steeplechase Sudha, who finished behind Kavita last time, will look to better her last year’s timing of 1:33:49.

Kavita had clocked 1:33.39 in the inaugural edition of the meet last year.

The men’s field will also miss last year’s champion Nitendra Singh Rawat, the Army man had raced to the finish line in 1:19:39.

Having won the Delhi Half Marathon with a timing of 1:04:41, Rawat has skipped the meet to focus on the Mumbai Marathon and achieve the Olympic qualification mark.

There will be only 17 runners in the elite men’s field.

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