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All-African show in the Capital

other Updated: Nov 22, 2010 00:16 IST
Moonmoon Ghosh

Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai was the fastest man among the elite athletes, winning the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2010 with a time of 59 minutes 38 seconds.

The 2008 winner, Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia, out-paced the women, clocking a time of 1:08:35 seconds, to stand on the top step of the podium. On a Sunday morning when the mercury hovered around 13 degrees Celsius, more than 30,000 people turned up to participate in the Half Marathon.

Earlier this year, Mutai had set a time of 59:43 s in the RAK Half Marathon in the UAE. He managed to beat that by shaving off five seconds off his time.

The long-distance runner, who trains for more than 200 hours every week, said he was in top physical shape for the Half Marathon.

"For me, running a marathon is a new experience each time. The track, weather, competition and the chasing pack --- all play a part in determining where you finish," he said, clutching the winner's cheque of $25,000 (R11.35 lakh).

Deriba Merga, who won the last edition, had pulled out at the last minute due to injuries and a lack of fitness.

Among the women, it was a clean sweep for the Ethiopians (Merima Mohammed and Yimer Wude as runners-up) as they celebrated the top positions. Mergia, who had finished seventh here in 2006, said she had been plagued by injuries for the past four months.

“I was actually unsure if I would come to India and run the marathon due to my injuries. But I recovered well in time,” she said, Armyman Irappa D Akki led the Indian athletes with a time of 64:32, finishing 20th overall. Akki attributed his success to the months he spent in Ooty training at altitudes.

“Once you are trained on hilly terrain, running on a flat surface like this isn’t a problem,” he said.

Railways’ Santosh Kumar and first-timer Rati Ram Saini finished runners-up while Lalita Babar, Kiran Tiwari and Geeta Rani Tushir took the honours among the Indian women.