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Top Marathoners of India 

Lalita Babar
Lalita Babar
Modified 15 Jan 2020, 20:00 IST

Starting from the time when the long-distance races in India was a far-fetched thought to the marathons being one of the most participative sports, the distance running in India has witnessed a drastic shift. The increased popularity of events like Mumbai Marathon, New Delhi marathon, Ladakh marathon, and Bangalore marathon has not brought the fitness revolution in India but has also given rise to the budding marathoners of the nation.

Let’s tour the landscape of proficient marathoners of India :

Lalita Babar

From her struggles at the drought-prone Mohi village of Satara to becoming one of the best athletes in India, Lalita Babar is an inspiration for all the aspiring athletes of India.

The 29-year-old long-distance runner is a sporting embodiment. She kicked off her athletics career in 2005 with her participation in the U-20 National Championships at Pune where she was the winner of the competition. Post the victory, there was no looking back for her.

Babar holds the record of winning the Mumbai Marathon for consecutive three years in 2012, 2013, and 2014 respectively. In the 2015 edition of the marathon, she clinched her personal best timing of 2:38:21.

Showcasing the true spirit of being better, she went on to win medals for her country. 

Her belief and hard work led her to win the bronze medal in the 3000 meters steeplechase in Asian Games 2014 in Korea. She set a national record by finishing the race in 9:35.37, breaking the previous record of Sudha Singh.

Having been excelled in the steeplechase, she emerged as the champion in the 3000 meters steeplechase in the 2015 Asian Championship. With the blazing timing of 9:34.13, she was not only successful in breaking the Indian national record but she also qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Following which she once again break the record in World Championship Beijing 2015 with the blistering timing of 9:27.86 in the qualification round. She managed to finish 8th in the finals along with becoming the first Indian woman to qualify for the steeplechase final.

Bettering the national record, Lalita successfully completed the  3000-meter steeplechase in 9:07.09 at the Federation Cup National Athletics Championships 2016. Continuing her victories, she went on to become the first Indian woman in 34 years to qualify for the finals in the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics. Clocking the timing of 9:19.76 in the qualifying heats, she secured the 10th position in the finals.


In order to honor her outstanding role in the athletics, she has been conferred upon with the honorary Arjuna Award by the Government of India. The award of Sports Person of the Year and India Sports award has been bestowed on her by FICCI and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

Sudha Singh

Indian Olympic Athlete Sudha Singh at the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019
Indian Olympic Athlete Sudha Singh at the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019

Sudha Singh is one of the finest athletes in India. This Indian Olympic athlete is a native of Uttar Pradesh. Her dedication and hard work have helped her make a robust reputation in the field of athletics. She is popularly known for her gold medal in 3000 meters steeplechase at the esteemed Asian Games 2010 held in China.

Sudha has earned various laurels in the sports. Among the many feathers in her cap, she has also been a successful 3000m steeplechase silver medallist in the 2009 and 2011 edition of the Asian Championship. Subsequent to these accomplishments, she was selected to represent India at the 2012 London Olympics in the 3000 m steeplechase event.


Honoring her contribution to the sports field, the government of India has awarded her with the prestigious Arjuna Award in the year 2012.

From being the employee of India Railways to her unprecedented achievements, she has not only brought glory to the nation but has also uplifted the importance of running in India.

Beginning her sports career in 2005, this 32-year-old proficient marathoner most notable timings includes 2:35:35 at the World Championship 2015 in Beijing, China and 1:11:30 in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2016.

She holds the title of the winner of the Tata Mumbai Marathon in the year 2018 and in 2019. With clinching the title of 2019 edition of Tata Mumbai Marathon with her personal best timing of 2:34:55 and finishing eighth overall, she has also qualified for the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Doha.

Sudha’s achievements are the exemplar of her remarkable journey to the tracks.

Nitendra Singh Rawat

Nitendra Singh Rawat in action at Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019 Sudha Singh at Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019
Nitendra Singh Rawat in action at Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019 Sudha Singh at Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019

Nitendra Singh Rawat is one of the best marathoners in India.

He has been part of many esteemed marathons across the world including South Asian Games Full Marathon 2016, where he clocked the timing of 2:15:18 and Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2017 where he is a National Record Holder 1:03:53.


Hailing from the town of Garur in Uttarakhand, he was qualified to represent India at the 2016 Rio Olympics having run the timing of 2:18 at the World Military Games in South Korea. 

Prior to the beginning of his marathon journey, Nitendra was posted at POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) as an infantry Havaldar of the 6th Kumaon Regiment.

Along with being the winner of many prestigious marathons in India, his most memorable performance was showcased when he bettered his icon Ram Singh’s timing of 2:16 by setting the timing of 2:15:48 at the Mumbai Marathon, more than a minute quicker than Ram Singh. He didn’t only emerge as the winner in the Indian men’s category of the marathon but also managed to secure the 10th position overall.

With clocking the timing of 2:15:52 at the recent Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019, he has qualified for the IAAF World Championships in Doha. Following his magnificent performance in the Mumbai Marathon, this army man has recently finished 27th in the elite field of the esteemed London Marathon.

Nitendra has expressed his concerns on the funding which can help him with the travel expenses and the facilities which will lead to enhance his performance in the international platforms. 

Gopi Thonakal

Gopi Thonakal
Gopi Thonakal

Gopi Thonakal, popularly known as Gopi T, is a 30-year-old marathoner who hails from Kerala and has many national as well as international titles to his name.


The marathon events in India serve as a platform for the budding athletes of India. Gopi has thanked the Mumbai Marathon in various occasions for the indispensable role this platform has played in his marathon career. Gopi started his journey of marathons as the pacer in the 2016 edition of the Mumbai Marathon. He finished the race as the runner-up of the marathon and this shift marked the beginning of this efficient athlete’s marathoner’s journey.

He went on to qualify for the Rio Olympics in the year 2016. Gopi, Indian representative in the 2016 Olympics finished 26th by clocking the timing of 2:15:25 sec. The following year, he also took part in London World Championships and finished 28th.

Gopi’s zeal and devotion to running made him the first Indian to win the title of the Asian marathon championship 2017 in Dongguan, China with the timing of 2:15:48 sec.

Competing in the 11th Seoul Marathon, he managed to secure the 11th position overall with the astonishing timing of 2:13:39 sec. With clocking his personal best timing in the event, he has also qualified for the World Athletics Championships to be held in Doha in September-October bettering the qualification mark of 2:16:00.

He has participated in various prominent marathons in India and abroad. Amongst her many achievements, he also holds the title of the winner of prestigious marathons like the 2018 version of the Tata Mumbai Marathon along with the 2017 and 2018 edition of the IDBI Federal New Delhi Marathon.

Despite getting a serious injury while running in the Mumbai Marathon 2019, he finished the race as the runner-up in Indian men’s category with the timing of 02:17:03. 

Published 12 May 2019, 23:46 IST
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