Francis Kibiwott victorious at the New Delhi Half Marathon (Rahul Pawar) © Copyright
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Kibiwott, Chepkirui return to defend New Delhi Half Marathon Titles

New Delhi, IndiaA new banner, new route and new course record are expected to arrive when the globally leading athletes assemble to run in New Delhi, the Indian capital, for the 3rd edition of the annual Half-Marathon on Sunday (28).

The defending champions Francis Kibiwott and Lineth Chepkirui are already here along with their Kenyan teammate Philip Rugut, who won the inaugural men’s race in 2005.

The women’s victor of 2005, Irina Timofeyeva of Russia, had been a regular participant in this race like Rugut. Both Rugut and Timofeyeva finished fourth in their respective divisions last year, but have ambitions to make the podium this year. 

Hugh Jones, the AIMS chief and technical director of the Delhi event, expects fast timings this year. The 2007 race is scheduled two weeks later than the middle of October race dates of earlier years. “The cool climate will be helpful for the runners to return timings close to 60 minutes,” Jones said in a news brief.

This year’s race will have plenty of runners of sub-60 minutes calibre.  The field includes elite Kenyan runner Patrick Makau, winner of 2007 Vattenfall Berlin Half Marathon in 58:56, Rugut (PB - 59:45), Evans Cheruiyot, World Road Running Championships bronze medalist at Udine in 59:05, and defending champion Francis Kibiwott, who clocked an impressive 59:26 while finishing second at Berlin.

The startlist for women includes past year’s champions Chepkurui (2006) and Timofeyeva (2005) with personal best timings of 70:09 and 69:29 respectively.

Hellen Kimutai, this year’s Rock-n-Roll Marathon victor in San Diego, Pamela Chepchumba, third at Udine in a time of 68:06, Alevtina Ivanova (Winner of 2007 Nagano Marathon), Venera Sarmosova (2nd at Russian Marathon championships) and Alice Timbili (68:56 at Philadelphia) are also in the fray for the women’s crown.

Javier Sotomayor, the World High Jump record holder from Cuba, will be brand ambassador for the race.  

A galaxy of multi-sports and cine-stars are expected to join the runners during the race with several corporate teams joining the Great Delhi Run to raise charity for various causes.

Vodafone, which merged with the previous title sponsor Hutch, is a leading name among the cellular phone users in the World. The change in banner does not make any difference but only increases the spirit among the runners with an increase in prize money which now totals USD 160,000 for the 2007 edition.

Ram. Murali Krishnan for the IAAF