Sunday’s Delhi half marathon proved to be a stroll in the park for Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge. Barring the last three of the 21km distance, the Rio Olympics marathon champion didn’t exert himself winning the race in 59 minutes 44 seconds.
For someone who is used to training in the altitudes of Kenya’s Rift Valley (above 2000m), running in the Capital’s roads was comfortable, to say the least. “It was easy for me. I wasn’t concerned about the weather. The quality of the air might have been bad, but it didn’t stop me from winning the title,” Eliud Kipchoge said in the post-race interaction.
The Kenyan, however, admitted that he was pushed a bit by Yigrem Demelash of Ethiopia, who eventually finished second. “He (Demelash) is basically a track runner and has a good finishing burst. So I tried to get shrug him off in the last two kilometers of the race. Otherwise he could have troubled me,” added Kipchoge.
Kipchoge in fact broke away from Ethiopian runner at the 18km mark, but kept on glancing over his left shoulder to ensure Demelash wasn’t closing in.
After the race the Ethiopian said, a foot problem in the opening 5km troubled him. It was why he wasn’t able to challenge his more fancied rival. “It just got worse as the race progressed,” he said.
Eliud Kipchoge’s training partner Augustine Choge finished third.
The leading Indian men’s group weren’t able to challenge the foreign runners. Army’s Mohd Yunus, who finished second behind teammate G Lakshmanan in the Indian section, said better training plan in future would help top Indian runners to catch up.
While elite foreign runners didn’t complain about the smog, the Indians did. “There was an irritation in the eyes due to the pollution,” said Yunus. Man Singh finished third to complete Army’s dominance in the event.
The elite women’s race was also a battle between Ethiopia and Kenya. Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia won the title while Abable Yeshaneh of Kenya settled for the second spot. Kenya’s Helah Kiprop was third.
The top three in the Indian women’s group were from Maharashtra with Monika Athare edging past Sanjeevani Jadhav at the finish line to take the winner’s trophy. Swati Gadhave was third.
Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) 59:44, Yigrem Demelash (Ethiopia) 59:48, Augustine Choge (Kenya) 1:00:01
G Lakshmanan (Army) 1:04:37, Mohd Yunus (Army) 1:04:38, Man Singh (Army) 1:04:40.
Worknesh Degefa (Ethiopia) 1:07:42, Ababel Yeshaneh (Kenya) 1:07:52, Helap Kiprop (Kenya) 1:08:11.
Monika Athare (Maharashtra) 1:15:34, Sanjeevani Jadhav (Maharashtra) 1:15:35, Swati Gadhave (Maharashtra) 1:17:43.