Delhi Half Marathon director Hugh Jones for advancing race in future

The popular Delhi Half Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, faces uncertainty over health concerns for the participants due to acute pollution in the Capital.

other sports Updated: Nov 15, 2017 20:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi half-marathon,Hugh Jones,Air Pollution
The 10th Airtel Delhi Half Marathon will be held on November 19. (Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

Severe pollution in the capital has raised a question mark over Sunday’s Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. And its long-time race director, retired British marathon champion, Hugh Jones, admitted holding the race in November is not healthy for the runners.

“In the best interest of all, the event should be held in September or early October. It seems the months of November and December are not conducive for distance running due to poor air quality,” he told Hindustan Times on Wednesday.

Race organisers, Procam International, unveiled the route but have their fingers crossed over the event going ahead smoothly.

Jones, the first Briton to win the London marathon, in 1982, and an old India hand as race director, said poor air quality will affect the entire field. Organisers have received 35,000 entries, 13,000 for the half-marathon.

“All competitors, including back-of-the-pack runners, will be exercising their lungs to the fullest to get more oxygen, so everyone will be affected,” said Jones.

Last year too, the issue of air pollution cropped up a week before the race, but conditions improved close to the event. This time, air quality has gone from bad to worse since October 23 and left the organisers in a quandary.

On Tuesday, the Indian Medical Association petitioned the Delhi High Court for postponing the race, citing harmful effects of the acute pollution. The court has issued notice to the Delhi government, police, pollution control panel and the race organisers. It will hear the case on Thursday.

Vivek Singh, joint managing director of Procam, admitted there was uncertainty. “It’s the first time we’re facing such a situation. For a smooth passage in future, we will discuss the issue with the world governing body (IAAF) for a new window,” he said.

Vivek Singh said medical facilities will be increased from the previous edition. “The number of medical experts on the route and at the finishing point will be more.”

Six medical stations will be deployed on the course and seven ambulances located are various points to tackle any emergency during the race.

Medical director, Kishlay Datta, said: “Those with history of respiratory illness, including asthma, should consult their doctors and make an informed decision on taking part in the event.”

In a statement last Saturday, Procam had said it was working closely with experts and was hopeful the race could go ahead.

“Our biggest responsibility is to the running community. These include the international elite athletes, the Indian elites, (and) thousands of amateur runners who have shed sweat and tears over months preparing to run on a particular date. ADHM is not a spectator sport whose date can be changed at short notice,” it had said.

First Published: Nov 15, 2017 20:49 IST