The nip in the air was a reminder of the impending winter as a sea of runners pounded the course aiming to beat themselves by setting new benchmarks.
At the end of it, Andamlak Belihu and Tsehay Gemechu, both from Ethiopia, emerged winners in the men and women sections of the 14th Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) on Sunday.
Sanjivani Jadhav and Abhishek Pal were the winners of the Indian section.
Belihu would have preferred a faster race but waited until the 15km mark before pulling away from the group that comprised Ethiopian Amdework Walelegn (Ethiopia), Daniel Kipchumba (Kenya) and Aron Kifle (Eritrea).
The intense duel saw Belihu and Walelegn, both 19,dominate the final stages. Belihu was the favourite and he did not disappoint his admirers as he came home in 59:18, beating Walelegn by four seconds.
“After finishing second last year, I came here determined to win and I was looking at the course record (59:06 by Ethiopia’s Guye Adola in 2014) but the pacemakers in the first half of the race didn’t do a good job,” said Belihu.
The much-anticipated contest between Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba and Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgogei never happened. In a superb run, Gemechu set up a course record of 1:06:50 on Sunday (21), four seconds less than the previous record set by Kenya’s Mary Keitany in 2009.
Showing tactical acumen of a seasoned winner, Gemechu, in her first half marathon, swept past her opponents in the last few metres with three-time Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba fading away from the reckoning. “To be honest, I hadn’t changed my training to do this race so I’m surprised that I won and ran so fast,” said Gemechu.
1. Andamlak Belihu (ETH) 59:18
2. Amdework Walelegn (ETH) 59:22
3. Daniel Kipchumba (KEN) 59:48.
1. Tsehay Gemechu (ETH) 1:06:50
2. Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN) 1:06:56
3. Zeineba Yimer (ETH) 1:06:59
1. Abhishek Pal 1:04:13
2. Avinash Sable 1:04.14
3. Gopi Thonakal 1:04:15
1. Sanjivani Jadhav 1:13:58
2. Parul Chaudhary 1:14:01
3. Monika Athare 1:16:55
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