An elite athlete field of 40 of the world's top 100 long distance runners for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon and a tie-up with Asia's largest software company Tata Consultancy Services as the exclusive associate sponsor were some of the significant announcements made at a press conference at TCS House on Thursday.
The media meet was also used to welcome into the fold leading channels from the Network18 stable, CNBC-TV18 and IBN7 as Channel Partners.
The fifth edition of the Mumbai marathon will see all the winners from past years in action. Besides them, the elite athlete field also includes some of the world's biggest names in long distance running, like Kenya's Japhet Kosgei and David Langat, athletes with the fastest timings in the field, with personal bests of 2 hours 07.45 seconds and 2:08.58 respectively.
Kenyan John Mutai, winner of the Belfast Marathon in 2007, Moroccan Khalid El Boumlili, winner of the Marakesh Marathon, with a personal best of 2:10.49, and Ethiopian Tariku Jiffar, who finished third in the 2007 edition, are some of the other fancied names in the field.
Among the ladies, though the favourites are the former champions, the athlete with the fastest timing is Ethiopia's Shitaye Gemechu (2: 26.15), followed by Kenya's Beatrice Omwanzu (2:27.19). The Russian challenge has three athletes and will be spearheaded by their 2006 champion, Nailya Youlanonova, who has a personal best of 2:30.54.
Ethiopians Letay Negash and Marashet Jimma, who finished third and fourth respectively in the 2007 edition, also make the strong field.
Announcing the historic tie-up for the marathon, S Ramadorai, CEO and MD of TCS said, "The Mumbai Marathon represents the indomitable spirit of the city and helps all participants to raise their game as well as display endurance and performance over a sustained period. As a company that lives these values, we believe that our enhanced support will help create an event that represents the global aspirations of this city and inhabitants."
Ramadorai added: "At TCS, maintaining work-life balance of our associates is important and our participation in these events only helps to propagate this idea across the company and the community. We are also encouraging Generation Next by helping build a team from different TCS-associated schools in the area to participate."
Tata Consultancy Services has been among the biggest supporters of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon since it began four years ago in terms of participation from their employees. It fielded as many as 10 teams and over 250 people in 2007. Over 250 TCS employees will participate in the 2008 edition as well.
Speaking on Network18's partnership with the marathon, B.Sai Kumar, Group C00 said, "The Mumbai Marathon has become an institution by now. It epitomises achievement, teamwork and above all support for greater causes and symbolizes India's resurgence. Being one of the leading media entities in the country, we found it befitting to associate with the marathon, through two leading channels from our network, CNBC-TV18 & IBN7. We hope this will be a new glorious chapter in the journey of the Mumbai Marathon."