Kenya’s Edwin Kipyego survived stiff competition from fellow athletes before claiming the men’s title,while Ethiopia’s Yimer Wude emerged victorious in the women’s elite category as around 32,000 Delhiites braved hot and humid conditions to run at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon,here today.
It was never an easy task for Kipyego till the half-way mark of 10.9km as his compatriots Leonard Langart and Silas Kipruto,who finished second and third respectively,matched him in pace.
Kipyego clocked one hour and 55 seconds to cover the stipulated 21.097 km and pocket USD 25,000 winner’s purse,while Langart came up with a timing of 1:01:07s to settle for the silver. Kipruto clocked 1:01:57s to win the bronze.
Kipyego,however,was behind previous editions winning time of 59:30s,set by Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia. Desisa suffered from Achilles tendon pain during the course of the run and finished seventh with a timing of 1:02:50s.
Two-time winner Deriba Merga holds the course record of 59:15 seconds clocked in 2008,which is his personal best in this distance. Merga pulled out of the event in the last minute.
In the women’s event,Ethiopia had one and two with Yimer Wude emerging winner with a timing of one hour,11 minutes and 10 seconds. Her compatriot Waganesh Amare and Kenya’s Helah Kiprop finished second and third,clocking 1:11:12s and 1:11:18s respectively.
Two-time winner Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia could not finish the race because of a leg injury.
Rahul Kumar Pal (1:06:12s) finished at the top among Indian men and overall 16th in the race. Nitender Singh (1:06:14s) and Indrajeet Patel (1:06:15s) followed Pal.
Sudha Singh was the fastest woman among Indians,clocking 1:19:34,followed by Kavita Raut (1:19:53s) and last year’s champion Lalita Babbar (1:20:47s).
In the men’s elite category,Kipyego,Langat and Kipruto went neck and neck till the half-way mark but hot and humid conditions caught up with Kipruto and he did not exert himself much for the top spot.
The tussle between Kipyego and Langat got widened by 12 seconds at the 14km-mark and the former ran nearly unchallenged after that.
It was only after the 18km-mark that Kipyego realised he had beaten the field for good and pushed hard for the podium in the IAAF Gold Label Marathon at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
“The weather was good at the start but later on it became humid. I tried my best but could not set any record. But I am very happy with the results,because I hadn’t expected to win,” said Kipyego.
“I tried hard till the 15K but weather condition got worse. I tried my best to push hard but could not compete with the pace of Kipyego. Overall,I am happy with the result,” said Langat.
The dominace of Kenyans in long distance running was evident from the fact that the other two finishers to make the top 5 were also from the East African nation.
Apart from Kipyego,Langat and Kipruto,Milton Rotich (1:02:01s) and Titus Mbieshi,winner of the World 10K Bangalore and making his half marathon debut here,clocked 1:02:44s.
In the women’s section,Yimer,who won the bronze medal in 10,000 metres at the 2009 World Championships and took the silver in the 2011 All-Africa Games,was pushed hard by Waganesh and Helahand but it was a sprint finish that saw her winning.
“It was a great run for me. It was a very hot and humid day but we ran together till the finishing line. In the last few metres,I decided to push to win the race,” Yimer stated and added,”I am very happy today,it was an unbelievable result for me.’
“I did not expect to win today but I am very happy with the result,” said Waganesh.
Namibian Helalia Johannes,who had a 12th-place finish in the London Olympics Marathon,had to contend with fifth place,coming home in 71.43s.
The leading women distance runners for India,Sudha Singh and Kavita Raut,were running together till 12 kms,after which they pushed hard for a podium finish.
One of the main contenders,World 10K Bangalore 2012 winner,Monika Athare,suffered a cramp in the middle of the route and could not complete the race.
“I did not have good practice before this marathon and I was also bit upset after the 2012 London Olympic qualifiers. But this result has given me some relief and joy,” said Sudha,the 2010 Asian gold medallist.
Sudha took part in London Olympics in the 3,000 metre steeplechase,and trained in Eldoret,Kenya for six months before the Games to improve her timing by practising at high altitudes.
Rahul,the best finisher among Indian men,said,”I knew that the competition will be tough and weather will be humid. I started my training two weeks ago,which was not enough. But my experience in recently concluded Open National Athletic Championship helped to finish first.”
The middle-distance runner,Rahul will continue his training in 5000m and 10,000m as half-marathon is not in his mind.
“I am happy to win this marathon,but middle-distance running is my aim,” he said.
The Indian winners got richer by Rs 2,50,000.
As usual the race witnessed the participation of a large number of enthusiasts and celebrities.
A host of dignitaries led by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit and event ambassador David Rudisha,besides Bipasha Basu,Madhur Bhandarkar,Sanjay Kappor (CEO Bharti Airtel,India & South Asia) and Bharat Bambawale (Global Brand Director,Bharti Airtel) were present to cheer on the participants. Tarun Tahliani,Hasleen Kaur,Rahul Bose and Gul Panag were also there among the celebrities.