Mutai, Mergia triumph in Delhi Half Marathon

Mutai, Mergia triumph in Delhi Half Marathon

It was never an easy task for Mutai, who clocked 59:38 minutes to cover the stipulated 21.097 km, as Ethiopians Lelisa Desisa and first timer Yacob Yarso chased him closely throughout the race.

Mutai, who recently clocked 2:04:55s at the Rotterdam Marathon, the second fastest time of the year, pocketed USD 25,000 as the winner's purse.Desisa, who was matching the pace of Mutai most of the distance, failed to accelerate towards the end and clocked 59 minutes and 39 seconds to settle for a silver. Yarso clocked 1:00:07s to win the bronze.

Mutai's timing of 59:38s was faster than last year's winning time of 59.54s, set by Olympian Deriba Merga of Ethiopia, who pulled out of the event at the last hour due to poor form and injury problem.

"The course was good and I could have clocked a better time had someone pushed me more in the race. Had someone taken charge of the race after 15km, I could have challenged that runner as I am a strong finisher and would have gone under 59 minutes. I would definitely want to come back here next year and try for the course record," said Mutai.

The lead bunch of Kenyans and Ethiopians were well within course record time after the first 10 kms, but Mutai slowed down his pace and though he stepped it up again in the last stages of the race he failed to lower the course record of 59.14s, set by Merga in 2008.

Mutai and Kenya's Silas Kipruto, dogged by the two Ethiopians, made the early break, but it was left to the two Kenyans to do the hard work, while the Ethiopians settled into an easy rhythm in their wake.

Mutai tried his best to get the Ethiopians to come ahead and take on some of the burden, but they refused to do so.

Meanwhile, the women's race was an all-Ethiopian affair with Mergia announcing her return to form with a timing of 1:08.35s, followed by compatriots Merima Mohammed (1:08.36s) and Yimer Wude (1:08.36s).It was another close race with a bunch of around eight runners maintaining the lead throughout, before Mergia, biding her time, burst into sprint to lead the Ethiopian sweep.

Such was their dominance that they ended up bagging the top seven positions.
"It's an important win for me as I had been struggling with an injury for four months. Before the race, I wasn't sure of a podium finish, but as the race progressed, I grew in confidence and was determined to win," said an ecstatic Mergia after the win.

Each of the winners in the men's and women's elite category bagged USD 25,000 while second and third place finishers pocketed USD 15,000 and 10,000 respectively.

Meanwhile, Armyman Irappa D Akki (1:04:32) finished first among Indian men and overall 20th in the race. Railways' Santosh Kumar ( 1:04:35) and Ratti Ram Saini (1:04:35) came second and third respectively.

Lalita Babar (1:18:05) was the fastest woman among Indians followed by Kiran Tiwari (1:18:55) and Geeta Rani Tushir (1:20:13).Each of the Indian top finishers would be richer by USD 4000.

While 8,680 participants ran the half marathon distance of 21.097 kms, the 7km Great Delhi Run was participated by 20,380 people.

The 4.3km senior citizens run witnessed 1100 participants and the 2.5 km wheelchair event had 60 competitors.Delhi's fitness conscious citizens were joined by elites and luminaries from the corporate, sporting and glamour world. Cheering the participants was 'Face of the Event' Bipasha Basu.

ADAG chairman Anil Ambani, a serious long distance runner and regular participant in the half marathon of the Mumbai Marathon, made his first appearance as a runner on the roads of the capital.

Running along with him in the half marathon was another Bollywood beauty Gul Panag and actor Rahul Bose. The Great Delhi Run also saw participation from hockey legend Dhanraj Pillay, another Bollywood star Arshad Warsi and personalities like Kiran Bedi and former film and TV star Malavika Tiwari.

Chief Election Commissioner S Y Qureshi, Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia, Chief Minister Sheila Dixit and Rajan Mittal of Bharti Airtel also attended the marathon.

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