Gurugram, Nov 30 (IANS) Jitender Yadav, a 23-year-old physical education student from Nangloi in Delhi, will bid fair to complete a hat-trick of victories while 25-year-old Ladakhi Tsetan Dolkar could well be the woman runner to beat in the fifth Apollo Tyres Millennium City Marathon on the iconic Sikanderpur and Golf Course Road underpasses here on Sunday.
Nearly 2,500 runners -- a 26 per cent increase from last year -- will take part in the marathon, half-marathon and 10 km Speed Challenge while several thousand will take part in the Joy of Running (5km) event. The races will be flagged off from Cyber Hub, taking the marathon and half marathon runners to Sector 54 before winding back to the Sector 42-43 Metro Station for the U-turn.
"We are delighted that the route has been certified by Association of International Marathons & Distance Races (AIMS) and the event is one of the handful recognised by the Athletics Federation of India," said Race Director Abhishek Mishra, who is also the founder of Tabono Sports & Events Pvt Ltd which organises the annual running event in Gurugram.
"We are growing and will keep evolving with time," he added.
The increasing participation by women runners is fair reflection of the growing popularity of the event, he said.
"From a mere five women runners each in the marathon and half-marathon two years ago, we saw the numbers rise to 11 and 20 last year. This time, we have 25 women running the marathon and nearly 120 women in the half marathon," he said.
Jitender Yadav, who uses the prize money won in events to finance his scholastic pursuit, says he has been inspired by India's top marathon runner T. Gopi and women's national record holder O.P. Jaisha.
One of India's fastest amateur runners Shailja Singh Sridhar, who clocked a personal best of 3:20:00 in the New York Marathon recently, will be among the runners as will the event's brand ambassador Milind Soman who intends to run the half marathon after flagging off the race.