The 2011 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon Sunday should provide an intense competition what with some of the biggest names in the world of long-distance running taking part in it.
New Delhi, India – A super fast field of around 40 of the world’s leading male and female runners will be aiming to cut the timing for the course. Running alongside will be top Indian runners who will pit themselves against the world’s best and a separate cash prize is on offer for them.
As has been with every edition in the past, a big holiday turnout is expected and people from all walks of life are expected to rub shoulders in the Great Delhi Run.
The main event, the 21.097-km Half Marathon will kick off first followed by a 2.5-km Wheelchair race, a 4.3-km run for senior citizens and the 6-km Great Delhi Run.
Deriba Merga and Aselefech Mergia, two-time winners from Ethiopia, are favourites in the men’s and women’s races respectively.
Merga, ranked No.4 in the world and winner of the Half Marathon in 2008 and 2009, holds the course record of 59:15 minutes. The Ethiopian is coming, having beaten a world class field in the Ras Al-Khaima Half Marathon, clocking 59:25.
However, he is expected to get stiff competition from Kenyan Sammy Kirop Kitwara, who won in Philadelphia, US, in 58:48. Sammy has already registered sub-59 times twice in the recent past.
Defending champion Aselefech will lead a strong women’s field, which includes fellow-Ethiopian and last year’s runner-up Merima Mohammed, former World Half Marathon silver medallist Aberu Kebede and the 2006 Commonwealth champion Lucy Wangui Kabuu of Kenya.
The Indian women’s charge will be led by defending champion Lalita Babbar and she will be challenged by Mumbai marathon winner Priyanka Patel and Sudha Singh.
In the men’s category, defending champion Irappa Akki will not be running fully fit after suffering an ankle injury. Other Indian athletes to look out for will be Deep Chand, Suresh Kumar, Kheta Ram and V.L. Dangi.