Kenya’s Eric Kiptanui leads star-studded field for the Airtel Half Marathon slated for October 21 in New Delhi, India.
The Kenyan has already notched up two impressive half marathon victories in 2008, winning both Lisbon and Berlin races earlier in the year. In Berlin, he won in a world-leading time of 58:42 to move up to number four on the world all-time list.
Kiptanui will be accompanied on his first trip to India by his training partner Daniel Kipchumba, who paced him to 15km in Berlin. A few weeks later, Kipchumba stood on top of the podium himself after a win at the Verbania Half Marathon in Italy in 59:06. Two-time World 10K winner Alex Korio, whose best of 58:51 was set in the 2017 Copenhagen Half Marathon, has been a regular participant in Procam International events in recent years and has run the New Delhi race twice with the last time being 2015. He is yet to face either of his two compatriots in battle so the tactics between the three Kenyans will be fascinating to watch.
The Kenyan trio will be up against Ethiopian duo of Leul Gebresilase and Feyisa Lilesa. Gebresilase was second in the Dubai Marathon at the start of the year in 2:04:02 while Lilesa won a memorable silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Gebresilase and Feyisa have half marathon bests of 59:18 and 59:22 respectively.
Adding to the considerable global interest in the race, USA’s Leonard Korir and New Zealand’sZane Robertson are also in the men’s elite field. Korir just missed the North and Central American record of 59:43 when he ran his personal best of 59:52 at the ADHM last year while Robertson holds the Oceania continental record with 59:47.
In the womens category, Kenya’s Caroline Kipkirui and Ethiopia’s 2016 ADHM winner Worknesh Degefa, will go head-to-head again after a memorable duel in the Prague Half Marathon back in April. Kipkirui, who set a personal best of 65:07 in Ras Al Khaimah in January– prevailed by just one second on that occasion to take second place in the Czech capital and it’s certain that Degefa will have that in mind ahead of her fourth ADHM appearance. Two other highly-rated Ethiopian women —Yeshaneh Ababel and Senbere Teferi— will also be on the start line in Delhi.
Ababel was second at the ADHM 2017 and has since been victorious at the Istanbul and Yangzhou half marathons while Teferi, who will be making her half marathon debut, has won world championship medals on the track and at cross country in the past and will arrive in Delhi fresh from setting a 3000m personal best when representing Africa at the recent IAAF Continental Cup.