I woke up early last Sunday morning, 27th November to thumping music bellowing from the adjacent Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Curious to know what’s happening, I got down to find a huge congregation of people participating in one of the biggest annual sporting events of our city – The Delhi Half Marathon!!
It was such a wonderful coincidence that I happened to live adjacent to the venue of the Delhi Half Marathon and I became an enthusiastic spectator to the Delhi Half Marathon 2011.
The Delhi Half Marathon is an annual half marathon foot-race held in New Delhi. Established in 2005, it is both an elite runner and mass participation event. It is an AIMS-certified course and is listed as a Gold Label Road Race by the IAAF. The half marathon is the elite runner race, while the Great Delhi Run attracts the majority of participants overall. The even t started off in the year 2005 and the inaugural edition had total prize money of US$310,000 to attract high calibre professional athletes. The course starts & ends in the Nehru Stadium and passes through the most beautiful areas of Lutyens’ Delhi.
This year (2011) is the 7th edition of the Delhi Hal Marathon and once again a huge number of people participated. The roads for the run were very efficiently barricaded and guarded by the police, providing a safe course for all participants (both professionals and amateurs). There was ample space on the sidewalks for spectators and this is where I stood by looking & cheering runners as they passed by. The atmosphere was festive with loud music playing in the stadium and also live bands positioned at strategic points to keep spectators entertained. I cheered, clapped and danced with fellow spectators and participants; it felt like our whole city had come down to the roads to enjoy the Sunday together!!
A total of 8,368 participants ran the half marathon distance of 21.097 kms while the 7km Great Delhi Run was participated by 21,095 people, which was flagged off from the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium by Bollywood stars Shahrukh Khan and Bipasha Basu. The Great Delhi Run was lots of fun as many people turned up in interesting costumes and get ups. The 4.3km senior citizens run witnessed 815 participants and the 2.5 km wheelchair event had 43 competitors.
One of the most prominent people participating in the event was, ADAG chairman Anil Ambani, a serious long distance runner and regular participant in the half marathon category of the Mumbai Marathon; he made his second appearance as a runner on the roads of the capital city. Running along with him in the half marathon were Bollywood’s Gul Panag, Rahul Bose and Rajeev Khandelwal. Also seen participating in the race was liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s son Siddharth.
Coming to the winners, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia emerged victorious in the men’s elite category, while Kenya’s Lucy Kabuu won the women’s title this year. Each of the winners in the men’s and women’s elite category bagged USD 25,000 while second and third place finishers pocketed USD 15,000 and 10,000 respectively.
Overall, it was a really interesting event for me (even if it was by coincidence) and I got so enthused that I now plan to participate next year for sure!!