Nainital (Uttarakhand), Aug 29 (IANS) Pramod Patni of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) beat off stiff competiton from Puran Singh Dhami to win the seventh edition of the Namah Nainital Mountain Monsoon Marathon here on Monday.

Patni completed the gruelling 21-km course in one hour and 12 minutes, closely followed by Dhami, who reached the finish line less than a minute later.

Chandan Digari was third with a time of one hour and 20 minutes.

While Patni took home the winner’s cheque of Rs 50,000, Dhami and Digari walked away with Rs 25,000 and Rs 15,000, respectively.

Patni, who has won gold at the Youth Commonwealth Games, asserted that the course, which had really steep climbs over extensive stretches, was among the toughest in the world.

“This course is definitely one of the toughest. Runners who hail from mountain regions will probably have an advantage here, but athletes from the plain areas will definitely find it tough,” Patni told IANS after his win.

“I have represented India at the international level, but I have never encountered such a tough course. However, competing in these conditions will definitely help me to improve as a runner,” he added.

“This event can definitely grow and the organisers should try to rope in foreign athletes for future editions. But even top international athletes will struggle to produce world class timings on this course.”

In the women’s 10km category, Arpita Saini clocked 44 minutes to win the title. Ruby Kashyap stood second while Parvati clinched the third position.

Arpita, who is from Muzzaffarnagar, said that the high altitude and tough terrain prevented the runners from producing good timings.

“My best timing over this distance is 38 minutes, but the conditions here are too tough. All the runners struggled to maintain decent speed over the course,” she added.

In the veteran’s category Jagdish Ram stood first followed by Stephen and Ravindra Rajput. In the senior boys’ category, Deepak Singh stood first, followed by Saurabh Badhani and Pawan Kathiyat.

In the girls’ category, Gunjan Sanwal stood first, followed by Priyanka Budhlakoti and Banu Priya Bisht. In the juniors boys’ category, Aman Kumar stood first, Ajay Pratap was second and Vijay Singh was third. In the junior female category, Mahi Rawat was first, Charu was second while Udita Rawat finished third.

One of the highest half-marathons in the world, the Nainital Monsoon Mountain saw huge participation with local athletes forming the bulk of the competitors.

“It was a challenging course. But it was a different experience altogether. These kind of events help to popularise the sport in small towns like this. I want to participate here next year,” Delhi girl Nikita Bhalla, who missed the podium by a narrow margin, told IANS.

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