Delhi Half Marathon: An ever growing phenomenon

The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) is embraced as a much-loved annual calendar among the sports enthusiasts of the Capital. On Sunday, the city will wake up to an athletic rousing on roads which would normally have worn a deserted look.

The number of registrations for the Delhi Half Marathon has only grown by the year to an extent that the organisers have to politely turn down entries.   -  R.V. Moorthy

Celebrated Japanese writer Haruki Murakami has a book dedicated to distance runners – the known and the unsung ones, the ones who seek glory and the ones who run to beat time. There are ordinary runners and there are the extraordinary runners. Daily running, Sunday race running, half marathons and marathons, are all growing phenomenon.

The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) has come to symbolise that phenomenon and is embraced as a much-loved annual calendar among the sports enthusiasts of the Capital. On Sunday, the city will wake up to an athletic rousing on roads which would normally have worn a deserted look.

The pollution issues have rocked Delhi for a long time – the stubble burning combined with the venomous air created by the pollution spewing vehicles – but amazingly the number of registrations for the ADHM has only grown by the year to an extent that the organisers have to politely turn down entries. “There are logistic issues and we empathise with those who don’t clear the registration process,” said one of the organisers on the eve of the event here on Saturday.

READ: Olympic champion Dibaba, WR holder Jepkosgei headline half marathon

The brand ambassador this year is Sanya Richards-Ross, the exciting American Olympics champion, and Jonty Rhodes, cricket star from South Africa, a self-proclaimed promoter of running. The ADHM is 14 years old and the rich field this year is a reflection of the quality of the event. The organisers term it a celebration of Pride, Togetherness, Recognitioon, Determination, Transformation and Giving.

The break up of 34,000 participants is Half Marathon featuring 12060 Elites+ amateurs; 4863 in the Open 10K Run;  16025 in the Great Delhi Run; 1140 in the Senior Citizen Run; 488 Champions with Disability and 105 in the Police Cup. The total prize money on offer is USD 280,000.

The star of the event is Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei, a world record holder over four road running distances - 5K, 10K, 15K, 21K. Challenging her is Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, three Olympic gold medals in distance running. Among the Indians, Gopi T and Nitrendra Singh Rawat are the contenders.

In the last decade, only athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia have emerged winners in the men’s and women’s sections. The course secords stand in the name of Guye Adola of Ethiopia (59:06) in 2014 and Mary Keitany of Kenya (1:06.54) in 2009.

“Running is the mother of all sports. It’s good to see the number of mass runners is growing. It is important to get India moving,” said Rhodes, who will be among the spectators to cheer the athletes.