Almaz Ayana wins Delhi Half Marathon on debut, Legese regains men’s title
Almaz Ayana translated her front-running style on the track to the course through central Delhi, winning the Delhi Half Marathon in 1:07.11Updated: Nov 19, 2017 12:20 IST
Almaz Ayana made a splash on her major road running debut on Sunday, coasting to victory to complete an Ethiopian double at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon.
Ayana, the Olympic and World 10,000m champion, carried her front-running style on the track to the course through central Delhi, winning in 1:07.11.
Ayana, two days shy of her 27th birthday, said sound preparations made up for inexperience in the distance. “I came to run well. There were no major championships this season and so I could prepare well,” Ayama said after finishing at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
“Once the pace-setters dropped out, there was some doubt whether I should just go ahead or someone else would take over pace-making duties. Otherwise, I could have run faster,” Ayana added.
It was an Ethiopian clean sweep as Ababel Yeshaneh and Netsanet Gudeta finished close behind.
Ethiopia’s 2015 winner Berhanu Legese won the men’s title, leading home in a sprint finish that saw world marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya pushed to sixth.
The race was flagged off in ideal 14 Degrees Celsius, but hopes of eclipsing even the course mark of 59:06 set by Ethiopian Guye Adola in 2014 vanished as it turned into a tactical race.
Legese won in 59:46, ahead of compatriot Andamlak Belihu (59:51). Leonard Korir (59:52), a Kenyan-born US runner, came third.
Armyman Nitender Singh Rawat, upset he was cast away from the national camp following injury, took the Indian men’s elite race in a course record of 1:03.53.
In a race which saw the top four break the course record of 1:04, there was drama at the end when G Lakshmanan, marginally ahead, had his arms spread in the final few steps. However, he fell as the winner brushed past him.
Rawat criticised the policy of cutting out top athletes the moment they are injured and spoke of having to train all alone, with support from younger runners in his unit. Lakshmanan, credited with the same time as Rawat but placed second, walked away furiously on finishing. However, he said later the victory of his training partner eased the pain.
Avinash Sable, the 21-year-old joint national record holder in the 3000m steeple chase, came third despite landing from Mumbai only late in the night after realising the flight had been booked for the wrong date only on reaching the airport.
L Suriya won the Indian women’s elite race in a meet record time of 1:10.31, edging past Olympian Sudha Singh (1:11.30) to make up for brother Lakshmanan’s miss. Parul Chaudhary (1:13.09), a runner from Meerut, was third.
Around 35,000 runners took part in the 13th running of the event.
Men: 1. Berhanu Legese (Eth) 59:46; 2. Andamlak Belihu (Eth) 59:51; 3. Leonard Korir (US) 59:52.
Women: 1. Aymaz Ayana (Eth) 1:07:11; 2. Ababel Yeshaneh (Eth) 1:07:19 3. Netsanet Gudeta (Eth) 1:07:24.
Men: 1. Nitendra Singh Rawat 1:03:53 2. G Lakshmanan 1:03:53 3. Avinash Sable 1:03:58.
Women: 1. L Suriya 1:0:31 2. Sudha Singh 1:11:30 3. Parul Choudhary 1:13:09.
First Published: Nov 19, 2017 09:48 IST