Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2019: L Suriya among elite Indian runners eyeing bonus prize, hope to improve timings

  • L Suriya is among the Indian women favouritesalong with Parul Chaudhary and Priti Lamba

  • The men's category is led by Suresh Kumar Patel, Srinu Bugatha, Pradeep Chaudhary and Man Singh

  • A cash prize of Rs 1 lakh will be awarded to the runner who beats the course record

The Indian elite athletes in the 15th edition of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon will be hoping to improve their timings in the event, with the bonus cash prizes on offer an incentive to train even harder.

L Suriya, who holds the current Indian course record, is among the favourites to finish first among her compatriots in the women's category along with Parul Chaudhary and Priti Lamba. The men's category is led by Suresh Kumar Patel, Srinu Bugatha, Pradeep Chaudhary and Man Singh.

 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2019: L Suriya among elite Indian runners eyeing bonus prize, hope to improve timings

Indian elite runners train at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium ahead of the Delhi Half Marathon. Procam International

"Will try to do my best. It is only after I hear the gunshot tomorrow that I will get to know how far I can get. We appreciate the bonus prizes that Procam has introduced in the event," said Parul, who won bronze in women's 5000m at the Asian Championships in Doha earlier this year.

The Indian course record belongs to Suriya, an Indian railways employee based out of the Tiruchirappalli Railway Junction in Tamil Nadu. Suriya clocked 1:10:31 to finish first among Indian women, ahead of star runner and Arjuna Award recipient Sudha Singh, in the 2017 edition of the ADHM. A cash prize of Rs 1 lakh will be awarded to the runner who beats the course record.

Weather conditions have been a talking point this year as far as long-distance events are concerned, with many athletes lashing out at the organisers of the recently-concluded World Athletics Championships for hosting the distance events in sweltering conditions. Delhi, thankfully, will take place in cooler conditions, in comparison, on Sunday, something that the participants might look forward to.

"The weather suddenly changed on Friday. It was very windy making the conditions very cool and suitable for runners. I am looking forward to a great run and good weather on a beautiful track will be an added bonus," said Pradeep, who trains at the Army Sports Institute in Pune with fellow distance runners Man Singh and two-time Asian Championships gold medallist G Lakshmanan.

When asked about some of the tough competitors in the men's category, Pradeep replied: "Everyone’s a tough competitor in our category, whether you look at Srinu (Bugatha), Suresh Patel, Man Singh, etc. I’d pick Suresh and Srinu as the frontrunners."

The 15th edition of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon takes place on in the wee hours of Sunday, 20 October — the event date taking place before the Hindu festival of Diwali since 2018 in order to minimise the risk of environmental pollution.

Over 40,000 people are expected to show up for the event, with the race divided into the following categories: Half Marathon (21.097 km), Great Delhi Run (5 km), Open 10K, Senior Citizens' Run (3.2 km) and Champions with Disability (3.2 km).

Among the elite international athletes marked as favourites in the men's category are title holder Andamlak Belihu, debutant Hagos Gebrhiwet and Eric Kiptanui, who recently was part of Eliud Kipchoge's team of pacemakers during the Kenyan's historic sub-two-hour feat in Vienna.

The women's event will see defending champion and current course record-holder Tsehay Gemechu take on the likes of Kenya-born Kazakh runner Caroline Kipkirui.

Updated Date: Oct 19, 2019 22:12:51 IST