New Delhi [India], November 29 (ANI): Ethiopia's Yalemzerf Yehualaw produced a stunning run over in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2020, a World Athletics gold label road race, to clock the second-fastest women's time ever over the distance when she crossed the line in the Indian capital in 64:46.
The 21-year old, who had to settle for third at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships last month when she slipped around 80 metres from the line, bounced back with aplomb to take the USD 27,000 first prize and an additional USD 10,000 as an event record bonus.
In the men's race, the event record - with the course having been changed from previous years- also fell when Amdework Walelegn outsprinted his Ethiopian compatriot and two-time defending champion Andamlak Belihu to win in 58:53, the latter coming home in 58:54.
A blistering pace from the gun was set in the women's race by the Kenyan male pacemaker Alex Kibarus and several of the elite field were quickly dropped. Six women - three Kenyans: Irene Cheptai, 2019 world marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich and marathon world record holder Brigid Kosgei; and three Ethiopians: two-time defending champion and event record holder Teshay Gemechu, world record holder Ababel Yeshaneh and Yalemzerf Yehualaw - followed Kibarus through 5km in 15:27.
World marathon record holder and recent London Marathon winner Kosgei was forced to drop out midway through the eighth kilometre, holding her leg as she limped to the side of the road. A kilometre later, Gemechu also started to suffer and lost contact with the leaders although she hung on to eventually finish fifth.
Yehualaw won in 64:46 but Chepngetich also ran the race of her life to finish in a personal best of 65:06 and move up to equal-sixth on the world all-time list.
"My training since the world championships told me that maybe I could break the course record as I ran 65:19 there, but this was more than I expected, and I hoped for a win here after just losing by a second a year ago," said Yehualaw in an official release.
In the men's race, three pacemakers took the field through 3km in 8:22 and then 5km in 13:57 - well under 59-minute pace - with Belihu always to the fore. The main pacemaker, Uganda's Abel Sikowo, continued to forge ahead and passed 8km 22:17 and then 10km in 27:50, with eight men still directly in the wake of Sikowo who was doing an admirable job in keeping the tempo high and sub-59 times definitely in sight.
Just after 12km, Sikowo dropped out and Belihu, along with Kenya's Leonard Barsoton, dictated matters at the front for the next two kilometres although, as he was later to admit, this decision might have cost the defending champion dearly in the later stages of the race.
India's 3000 metres steeplechase national record holder, Avinash Sable smashed the event record as well. The Olympic-bound athlete raced to the first position in the Indian elite men's category in 1:00:30, beating the previous national record of 1:03.46 held by Kalidas Nirave. In addition to the prize money of Rs 3.5 lakh, Avinash will also receive an event record bonus of Rs 1 lakh.
"It's great to break the national record. I have not competed in any tournament for a year and I have been only practicing, so I wanted to compete in an event. ADHM has certainly helped me to prepare for the Olympics next year. Coming into the race, I wanted to break the national record and stay as close as possible to the international runners during the race. I am happy I was able to do that," said Sable.
Around 13,500 people from around the world took part in ADHM 2020, across three categories - Half Marathon (21.097 km), Open 10K (10 km) and Great Delhi Run (5 km) - from their own respective locations.
While the Elite runners ran from the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, thousands from across the globe joined them via the exclusive ADHM Mobile App. (ANI)