Delhi half-marathon is a race for all

November 8th, 2008 - 9:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Kareena KapoorNew Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) There is an early wintry nip in the Delhi air and it is the ideal time for people of all ages to have the pleasure of running. Airtel half marathon Sunday will see around 25,000 at the start line, including a fair sprinkling of foreigners. Some of them will run for a share of $210,000 prize money .Defending champions among men and, women Dieuonne Disi and Deriba Alemu, will again be there for the fourth edition of the event with a beehive of celebrities jogging along. Former New Zealand all-rounder Richard Hadlee and one of the greatest heptathletes and longjumper Jackie Joyner Kersee are the ambassadors of the event. Kapil Dev and former Asian women’s tennis champion Kiran Bedi will join the celebrities.

Keeping with tradition, the event will see the presence of Bollywood, Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan , Rahul Bose will be among the host of stars from tinsel town.

The event will have four categories as usual — the 21 km half marathon (8,000 participants), 4.3 km Senior Citizens’ Run (1,200 participants), 4.3 km Wheelchair event (200 participants), and 7 km Great Delhi Run for the Capital’s commoners (18,500).

The 25- year-old Deriba Merga, who finished fourth in the Beijing Olympics marathon, is among the 16 Ethiopians — six men and 10 women — confident of setting a new record.

“It is a good competition. I am in good shape and I am looking forward to breaking last year’s record. I hope humidity will be less tomorrow,” said Merga.

So, what brings them all to India? “Good event, good prize money and good Indian people,” says their manager Hussein Makke.

“There are some good Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes competing. With a mix of experience and young age,they are quite capable of setting a few records tomorrow. It will be one of the best marathons,” he said.

Kenyan athlete Sally,29, who finished fifth in 2006, feels the competition will be a lot tougher this year.

“There are some very good runners taking part in the race and I want to do well myself,” she said.

As for the changes in the two years, Sally grins and says: “The food is not spicy, it is good for us.”

But, there will surely be some spice in the race!

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