Super-fast elite fields for Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2012
New Delhi, A super-fast men’s international elite field, with 12 athletes having sub-60 minute personal bests, and an equally powerful women’s field, among them Ethiopian Aselefech Mergia, Namibian Helalia Johansson and Kenyan Caroline Kilel was announced for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon at the ADHM media center by presenter Tim Hutchings on Thursday.
Defending champion Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Ezekiel Chebii, who recently clocked 51.05 while winning at Lille and is ranked the world’s No. 3 road runner, were present at the conference and confidently expressed their readiness to have a go at the course record of 59.15, which stands in the name of Deriba Merga.
With the temperature expected to drop in the coming days, the athletes did not seem to worried about the weather, given that the men’s race is slated to start at 6.30 am.
“I hope that the weather remains cool on Sunday, then I will be able to break my previous mark and attempt the course record, said Lelisa Desisa, who clocked 59.30 minutes last year.
However, Desisa will also have to contend with an in-form and confident Ezekiel Chebii, who recently made the athletics world take notice of him with a blistering run of 59.05 while winning at Lille on September 1.
“I am competing with these Ethiopians for the first time. They are very tough competitors and will run a strong race. Since this is my first visit to India, I want to do well in this race and am confident and in good shape,” said Chebii.
The other Ethiopian in the field Chebii is referring to is Atsedu Tsegay, who clocked this year’s fastest time of 58.34 while winning at Prague. Tsegay too is expected to run a very fast race, with an eye not only on the course record, but on the world record held by Eritrean Zersenay Tadese.
In the women’s section, Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia will lead the pack and hopes to win this year’s Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. She has recovered from a leg injury and now raring to go. “I stopped training due to my injury but now I’m back. I am training well to perform my best in this Half Marathon,” said Aselefech, who has won this event in 2008 and 2010.
However, she knows the competition will be tough as Helah Kiprop, Caroline Kilel (both from Kenya) and Helalia Johannes of Namibia will give her tough competition. Kiprop won the TCS World 10K Bangalore in year, where she clocked 32:22 mins. Caroline Cheptanui Kilel is the winner at the 2011 Boston Marathon and the 2010 Frankfurt Marathon.
Kilel has also won marathons in Ljubljana, Taipei, Nairobi and Palermo. Her personal best for the distance is 2:22:36 hours (set in Boston, 2011). She also competes in half marathons and has a personal best of 1:08:16 hours over that distance.
Johannes, who participated in the Beijing and London Olympics – where she finished 12th, holds the Namibian records in all long-distant runs. “The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon is a big event for us. I have trained well for this and hope to give my best,” she stated.