For a long time there were no Long distance races like marathons in Olympic for Women. But now a days, participation of Females in marathons is almost equal to Males.
India has produced some really good marathon women, they have not only ruled in the national events but also participated globally.
Here are 4 best and famous Women marathon runners of India –
1) O.P. Jaisha (Jaisha Orchatteri Puthiya Veetil): She is currently the “National Record Holder” in the Marathon after clocking 2:34:43 at World Championships in Beijing, 2015 (Overall she finished 18th). In the process she bettered her own mark of 2:37:29 – set at Mumbai Marathon, 2015 where she broke 19-year-old record. She has more than 20 marathon wins (Half marathon, 25k, Full marathon). Her best Half marathon time is 1:11:34 in New Delhi, 2015.
She is also a former national record holder in the 3000 metres steeplechase. She won gold over 1500 metres and 3000 metres at the 1st Asian Indoor Games held at Bangkok in 2005. She was unable to repeat her performance at the 2006 Asian Indoor Championships, held at Pattaya, as she won only a silver in the 1500 metres and a bronze in the 3000 metres.
She represented India at the 2006 Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne, Australia. Jaisha is also a bronze medalist in 5000 metres at the Doha Asiad. At the 2014 Asian Games held in Incheon, South Korea, Jaisha won the 1500 metres bronze.
2) Lalita Babar: She predominantly competes in the 3000 metres steeplechase and is the current Indian national record older and an Asian Champion in the same event. Also, at Asian Games in Incheon (2014), South Korea, she won the bronze medal clocking 9:35.37 in the final. In the process, she broke the national record held by Sudha Singh. After disqualification of the gold medallist Ruth Jebet from Bahrain, Lalita was promoted to the silver medal.
In Marathon events, she won Mumbai Marathon four times. With her personal best of 2:38:21 at Mumbai Marathon 2015, she qualified for 2016 Summer Olympic in Marathon.
In Asian Championships, 2015 she won the gold medal clocking 9:34.13 in steeplechase and broke her own personal record, the Indian national record and the games record. In the process, she qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics. She went on to break the record again at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing with a time of 9:27.86 in her qualifying heat. Being the first Indian woman to qualify for the steeplechase final, she placed eighth in the final. At the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, she bettered the National record with a time of 9:19.76 in her heat, qualifying to the final, and in the process became the first Indian in 32 years to enter a final in any track event.At the final, she finished 10th with a time of 9:22.74.
She was named as the Sports Person of the Year in the India Sports Awards 2015 organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports of India. She was recently honored with prestigious Arjuna Award 2016 by the President of India for her contribution in the field of athletics.
3) Sunita Godara: She holds the record of running the maximum marathons run by an Indian. She has run in 71 full marathons, starting with the Rath Marathon in 1984. She finished first 25 times, second 12 times and third 14 times. In addition to that, she won 23 half marathons and has run in 200 international races in all continents.
Her personal best is 2:43:33 in 42.2km (Paris Marathon, 1993) and 1hr 16min in 21.1km ( Italy, 1993)
In 1990 she clocked 2 hours 49.21 minutes to become the first Indian to win a world class race. She won medals in the Penang and Kedah marathons. She also carried the Olympic Flame at the 1996 Olympics at Atlanta. She won gold at the 1992 Asian Marathon Championship held at Bandung.
She is an Indian Marathon Legend and honored with prestigious Arjuna Award.
4) Asha Agarwal: She is a former Indian women marathon champion and a recipient of Arjuna Award.
Asha Agarwal won the Hong Kong marathon on January 27, 1985. In September 1985 she won the gold at the Asian Track and Field meet in Jakarta, setting a record of 2 hours 48 minutes and 51 seconds. She also won the Freedom Race in Delhi in 1989, Trinidad Marathon in 1986 and has run eight out of 26 marathons below 2 hours 50 minutes.