Such has been the craze for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon that the top three male finishers from the last edition decided to return again and compete. With the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) having granted it the prestigious 'Gold Label' status, the event is now the richest of its kind in the world and will offer a total prize money of US$ 210,000 (Rs 98.4 lakh).
More than 100 elite athletes will be running the half-marathon (21 kms), the main feature of the entire event that will also comprise the Great Delhi Run (7 kms), senior citizens' run (4.3 kms) and the wheelchair event (4.3 kms).
Hugh Jones, technical director of the marathon, said, "Interest in participation has been so tremendous that all the top three male finishers are back again this year." Ethiopian Deriba Merga, who set a record of 59.15 minutes, will be back to defend his title.
The Indian athletes will be looking forward to lowering Sandeep Kumar's mark of 64.48 minutes that was also set last year. Jones described it as "an achievement" to have attained the Gold Label status. "We are a young event, merely into our fifth year. The race is now established," he said.