The area around India Gate was abuzz in the wee hours of Sunday. Thousand of runners gathered around the historical monument, which marked the starting point of the Mawana Indian Open Marathon.
Winning the marathon came a distant second to the need to enjoy the run, as Delhiites took the opportunity to mingle around and have a great time.
Deep Chand of Army Sports Institute, Pune took the honours, completing the event in 2 hours and 22 minutes.
“I am pleased with my performance as I had trained very hard.
I was lagging behind for most parts of the race but a burst of energy towards the end helped me clinch the top spot,” said the farmer from a village in Rajasthan.
Shukanya Mall stood first in women’s marathon, while Sandeep Kumar (1hr, 6min, 54sec) and Pampa Chanda (1 hr, 19 min, 29 sec) bagged the men’s and women’s half-marathon titles.
The prize money was increased this year to Rs 2.50 lakh for the full and Rs 50,000 for the half-marathon.
“I plan to spend a part of the money on training while the rest will be deposited in the bank,” said Deep.
Some athletes felt that the 9 a.m. start was too late for a marathon, as the February sun was surprisingly unbearable. “You cannot have a marathon at 9. By the time I was in the second lap, I had thoughts of giving up,” said Percy Fernandez (32).