As we continue to buildup to the 13th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in New Delhi on Sunday 3 October 2004, an event which marks an historic step on Athletics’ path of increasing universality we offer our second vignette, on this occasion about the Half Marathon course and the history of the city which hosts it.
The athletes, officials and media visiting New Delhi for the 13th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships will find a lush historical city filled with beautiful historic sites such as the Forts of Lal Qila (Red Fort), Purana Quila, Humayun’s Tomb, Safdarjung’s Tomb, Qutub Minar, Jantar Mantar - the observatory, Jama Masjid and Raj Ghat - situated on the banks of the River Yamuna where the mortal remains of Mahatma Gandhi were cremated.
In the beginning…
According to the myths and legends of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, the Pandava rulers founded their capital Indraprastha 3000 years ago, and archeological excavation has since established continuous habitation on the site of old Indraprastha for over 2500 years.
The Indraprastha, through a transition of time, became Delhi, when the Tomar ruler Anangpal founded Lal Kot in the 11th century AD, and King Vigraharaja extended the town to Qila Rai Pithora.
Qutab-ud-din Aibak who was sworn in as the first Sultan of Delhi in 1206 paved the way for Muslim dynasties like the Khaljis, Tughluqs, Sayyids and Lodis. The small towns around Delhi like Siri, Tughlaqabad, Firozabad, Kotla were built during the above dynasties, and since then the Purana Qila and Shahjahanbad have become the sixth and seventh towns around Delhi. In recent times the original Indraprastha city mound has been unearthed in the Fort of Purana Quila.
When the British rulers shifted their Indian capital from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911, they constructed the eighth town - New Delhi - under the leadership of architect Sir Edward Lutyens. The majestic New Delhi, a splendour of marble with a mixture of Moghul architectural styles blended with the then fashionable European Imperial style of parks, ponds and buildings.
The race route
The course - comprising two loops - of this year’s World Half Marathon starts and finishes at the magnificent Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium built in 1982 for the Asian Games, which houses the offices of various national sports federations including the Indian Olympic Association and Athletic Federation of India.
Situated on the race route are, the Delhi Golf Club course, High Court of Delhi and the India Gate - the 40m high memorial to the Indian martyrs of World War I.
The athletes will have an opportunity to run on the Raj Path, the road where the annual Republic Day parade takes place, before reaching the "turning point" of the race which is situated right before the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, the official residence of the President of the Indian Republic.
Ram. Murali Krishnan for the IAAF