New Delhi: Men's marathon world champion Geoffrey Kirui and world record holder Almaz Ayana will be the leading contenders at tomorrow's Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, the build of which was marred by health concerns due to pollution in the national capital.
Some of the world’s best and Indias elite will vie for glory in the USD 284,000 event. On the eve of the Race Day, Indian elite contingent looked confident to better their best till date.
"It's one of those events I enjoy coming back to. This is my third appearance here I will look to better my timings, said Elite Mens Defending Champion G Lakshmanan, who took the top spot in the 2016 edition with a timing of 1:04:37.
Challenging Lakshmanan to his throne would be Nitender Singh Rawat and Kalidas Hirave. Rawat who won the 2016 Mumbai Marathon with a timing of 2:15:48 says he wants to better his half marathon time of 1:04:07 at the event on Sunday.
"The event has got bigger and better every passing year, there is more awareness among general public which is very good, said the 30-year old who won the title here in 2015.
Meanwhile Satara-born Hirave said he was excited to come back to his favourite marathon event.
Indian womens elite field will include 2016 editions third-placed runner Swati Gadhave along with Sudha Singh, Parul Chaughary and L Suriya.
Singh, who is the most experienced of the lot, won the Tata Steel Kolkata 25k in December last year while finishing seventh in the 2016 Mumbai Marathon.
"I have been training hard for this event running 280 kms a week as a part of my training," said Singh who came third in 2015.
L Suriya is coming to the event after winning Gold at the 2017 BSF Marathon besides winning Gold in 5000m & 10000m at 2016 SAF Games. She finished fourth at 2015 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon with a time of 1:13:18.
The Indian elite women contingent will run alongside reigning 10,000m world champion and world record holder Almaz Ayana. The Ethiopian will be favourite alongside defending champion Worknesh Degefa to dominate the womens category.
2016 Rio Paralympics mens High Jump gold medalist Mariyappan Thangavelu and bronze medalist Varun Bhati will run in Champions With Disability category.