The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on Sunday (15) lived up to its promise. Astonishingly deep fields had been assembled for both the menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s races and it resulted in Atsedu Tsegay of EthiopiaÃ‚Â taking three seconds off the course record.
Meanwhile, a close womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s race saw 2010 world half-marathon champion Florence Kiplagat triumph in 1:08:00 as just 10 seconds separated the three Kenyan athletes who filled the podium places.
TsegayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ethiopian compatriot Deriba Merga set the previous course record of 59:15 in 2008, ten weeks after finishing fourth in the marathon at the Beijing Olympics. But on a mild morning on the streets of Delhi, Tsegay won a competitive menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s race in 59:12 to come within half a minute of the 58:47 national record he set in Prague last year.
When Tsegay achieved his 2012 world-leading mark in the Czech capital, it was something of a surprise as he had never before broken 61 minutes for the distance. Since then his form had dwindled slightly due to an ankle injury, but his victory in Delhi showed that he is no flash in the pan.
A large group of 12 athletes went through the 5km mark in 14:09, but only five men remained at the front by the half-way mark. Geoffrey Kipsang, the 2011 world junior cross-country champion, led the group with comprised Tsegay, 2010 world half-marathon champion Wilson Kiprop, African 10,000m champion Kenneth Kipkemoi and KenyaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s World Championships marathon representative Nicholas Kipkemboi.
With less than 7km remaining, the same five athletes were out in front, but as Tsegay upped the pace in the closing stages, the Kenyan quartet was unable to respond.
Tsegay crossed the line in 59:12 and he was joined 18 seconds later by Kipsang. Kiprop (59:49) and Kipkemoi (59:55) also dipped under the one-hour barrier, while Kipkemboi faded to fifth in 1:00:24.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m happy to win as I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t run for nearly a year because of an ankle injury,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Tsegay. Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is only my second race since the injury and I am happy with my performance.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I paced myself until 12km, then at 15km I realised that I had a huge lead and would win,Ã¢â‚¬Â he added. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The climate was extremely cold so initially it was a little difficult to adjust to the conditions.Ã¢â‚¬Â
In total, 11 men finished in less than 62 minutes, including defending champion Edwin Kipyego who placed eighth in 1:01:21. Read more