Defending champion Derara Hurisa is back to where his marathon journey began — the prestigious Tata Mumbai Marathon — as he eyes a winning return from injury in the upcoming 18th edition on Sunday, January 15.

The 25-year-old Ethiopian clinched the 2020 crown with a blistering course record of 2:08:09 and went on to win both his outings over the classic distance in 2021 — Vienna and Guadalajara Marathon (Mexico) — but was disqualified in Austria due to a shoe technicality.

He spent 2022 recovering from a hip injury.

“I’ll try to defend my title, but the competition here is really good,” Hurisa told a news conference on Saturday. “My training was nice, with the focus on the Tata Mumbai Marathon,” he added.

Tata Mumbai Marathon 2023-International top Elite athletes at the CSMT Viewing gallery (L to R), Ethiopia’s Worknesh Alemu, Hayle Lemi, Kenya’s Rodah Tanui, Defending Champion Ethiopia’s Derara Hurisa, Kenya’s Sharon Cherop and Kenya’s Philemon Rono.

In the men’s field, 10 runners hold personal bests under the course record, including Hurisa’s compatriot and training partner Hayle Lemi.

The 28-year-old is a winner of seven marathons, including the Boston Marathon in 2016 and Dubai in 2015. “The conditions here look good for me,” said Lemi, a.k.a. Lemi Berhanu, runner-up in the 2021 Boston Marathon in 2:10.37 and with a preference for warm weather.

Leading the Kenyan charge in the men’s International Elite field of 16 is Philemon Rono, the training partner of marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge. “My training has been good, I just got to go out there and express myself,” said the 31-year-old, who finished an impressive sixth at the 2019 Boston Marathon and won the Toronto Marathon for the third time that year in 2:05:00.

The women’s international elite field will feature 2019 winner Worknesh Alemu of Ethiopia and the 2020 runner-up from Kenya, Rodah Jepkorir Tanui, and six runners with personal bests under the course record (2.24.33), headlined by the experienced Kenyan Sharon Cherop.

 The 18th edition of the USD 405,000 prize fund World Athletics Gold Label Road Race takes place after a two-year pandemic-forced break and will also witness over 55,000 amateurs across six categories on its much-awaited return.

The elite men’s and women’s winners will take home USD 45,000 each. The runners will be further incentivized by a Course Record Bonus of USD 15,000.