Merga retains Delhi Half Marathon title

Merga retains Delhi Half Marathon title

Ethiopia's Deriba Merga raises his arms after winning the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2009 in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI

It was never an easy task for Merga, who clocked 59:54 minutes to cover the stipulated 21.097 km, as compatriot Eshetu Wendimu and last year's runner-up Wilson Kipsang of Kenya chased him closely throughout the race.

Wendimu (1.00.02) finished second, followed by Kipsang (1.00.04), who came nowhere near his last year's performance owing to a toe injury.

"Although I am happy to retain the title, I am not satisfied with my performance. I tried to push from beginning of the race but then slowed down a bit to the end," Merga said after the race.

The Ethiopian registered his personal best timing of 59.15 minutes at the event last year.

Keitany, who won the World Half Marathon Championship in England recently, took one hour 6.54 minutes to touch the finish line bettering the previous record of 68.17 minutes.

Ethiopian Ayelew Wude (1.07:58) came second, followed by compatriot Aberu Kebede (1.07:59).
"It was a good performance on a flat track. I slowed down after 15km but later recovered well. I am satisfied with the performance," Keitany said.

Last year's women's champion Mergia Aselefech of Ethiopia clocked 1.10:02 to rank a distant ninth.
Each of the winners bagged USD 25,000.

Meanwhile, Armyman Deepchand Saharan (1.04:00) finished first among Indian men and overall 17th in the race.

Deepchand, also a 2010 Commonwealth Games probable in the marathon event, was followed by Railwaymen Santosh Kumar (1.05:10) and Soji Mathews (1.05:18), who ranked overall 18th and 19th respectively.

Uttar Pradesh's Sukanya Mall (1.20:11) was the fastest Indian woman who finished 22nd overall.
Two of her statemates Anuradha Singh (1.22:07) and Kamlesh Baghel (1.23:43) finished behind Mall with overall standings of 24th and 25th respectively. Each of the Indian toppers would be richer by USD 4,000.
Earlier, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief Suresh Kalmadi flagged off the race that saw a whopping 8,429 participants, including 266 foreigners.

Among others, Union Minister of State for Sports P P Patil, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, Olympic bronze medallist boxer Vijender Singh and actor Rahul Bose were present on the occasion.