Quick-learning Chebii sets eyes on Delhi Half Marathon glory
Kenyan long distance runner Ezekiel Chebii is fast climbing his way to higher echelons. The 21-year-old, fresh from his title win at Lille, France earlier this month, has now set his eyes on the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on Sunday.
Chebii shattered the course record at the Lille Half Marathon on September 1, clocking an impressive 59:05, well under the previous course mark of 59:36 set by Ethiopian Tilahun Regassa in 2008. It was also his personal best timing.
It was a significant improvement for Chebii whose previous best was 59:22 in the Berlin Half Marathon in April. The youngster, on his maiden visit to India, expects a keen competition with as many as 12 athletes in the field clocking sub-60 minutes personal best records.
“The competition is tough and Sunday won’t be easy. But I am confident. My target will be to better my own record,” Chebii told reporters on Thursday. "Weather plays an important role. In Lille the weather was good but it’s hot out here. The good thing is that the race is going to start in the morning."
Chebii, who trains with his brother Abrahim, began as a track athlete before switching to road. “For track events, one has to be very fast. I am more of a road runner, who can run upto 40kms a day," said Chebii.
"I have been training with my brother Abraham for many years now. He is the one who motivates me to do better. Now, he has shifted to marathon. "
Chebii has been training with a group of top marathoners like Sammy Kitwara and hopes
to start competing in full marathons, too.
The Kenyan, like many top athletes participating in the event, is also returning from illness. He had typhoid a few weeks ago but said he is in a good shape. "Illness is common in road run as it demands a lot of energy. The problem is that before you even recover completely, and you are back to training."
His main rival will be Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa, who is also the defending champion. Desisa clocked his personal best of 59:30 last year and is aiming to overhaul compatriot Deriba Merga’s course record of 59:15.