Leonard Barsoton of Kenya and Guteni Shone of Ethiopia broke the course records while winning the men’s and women’s titles respectively in Tata Steel Kolkata 25K Race in Kolkata on Sunday.
Barsoton crossed the finish line in the 25km race with a timing of 1 hour 13 minutes and five seconds, thus bettering Kenenisa Bekele’s course record by 40 seconds.
On a new course on a hazy morning, Barsoton faced a close competition till the 20K mark after which he broke free from the pack.
In fact, the top three international elite athletes in both men’s and women’s categories bettered the course record.
Among men, the second and third places were taken by Betesfa Getahun of Ethiopia (1:13:33) and compatriot Bayelign Yegsaw (1:13:36).
In the women’s race, Guteni knocked off more than four minutes from Degetu Azimeraw’s course record to take the top honour with a timing of 1:22:09. The silver and bronze went to Desi Jisa (1:23:32) and Tejitu Daba (1:24:32) respectively.
In the men’s race, Felix, Betesfa and Barsoton were together till the 20km mark at 59:05 minutes, before the latter went ahead with a sharp injection of pace.
“It is so special to have broken the record of the legendary Bekele. It makes my win special, even more because till two weeks back I was not sure I would come here,” Barsoton, who plans to run Bengaluru 10K, said.
“I have been training hard this year, leading a disciplined life, sleeping early, rising early and training hard. This year in Valencia, I had one of my best timings,” the 10,000m silver medallist at the African Games said.
Barsoton next plans to take part in RAK Half Marathon in Dubai and also at the European circuit.
Guteni said her hard practice throughout the year has paid off.
“The temperature was a little hot and since the running was through the city there were many turns and bends making the race tough,” she said.
Srinu Bugatha (1:18:31) and Kiranjeet Kaur (1:38:56) won the Indian challenge in the men’s and women’s category respectively in a tough field.
Among Indian men, the second and third places were taken by Tirtha Pun (1:18:39) and Harshad Mhatre (1:20:03), while Shyamali Singh (1:39:02) and Arati Patil (1:39:40) finished second and third in the women’s section.
A winner of Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, Services runner Srinu said the win will bolster his confidence for the upcoming Mumbai marathon.
“In the last three attempts I came second, but this time I was determined to come first. I am planning for the Tata Mumbai marathon and this race gives me a great platform.”
After Mumbai Marathon, he plans to head for the Barcelona Marathon in March.
“I am trying to go under 2:15 hours so that I can qualify for other international events. This time the course here is tougher with a flyover and sharp bends and turns and it makes the running far more challenging.”
Kiranjeet Kaur and Shyamali were neck and neck till the 15K mark before the former went ahead.
Kiranjeet would next take part in the National Cross Country to qualify for the Asian Cross Country as she next heads off to Kenya for two-month training with Athens Olympics bronze medal winner Paul Kipsiele Koech.