Special Guest and athletics legend Milkha Singh, international event ambassador Donovan Bailey and ‘Face of the Event’ Bipasha Basu cook pasta at the ‘Pasta Cookout’ of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium on Saturday.
Mukul Chatterjee, DG, NADA greets international event ambassador Donovan Bailey as special guest Milkha Singh and ‘Face of the Event’ Bipasha Basu look on at the ‘Pasta Cookout’ of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium on Saturday. At the ‘Pasta Cookout’ of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium on Saturday (from l to r) Mukul Chatterjee, DG, NADA, special Guest and athletics legend Milkha Singh, ‘Face of the Event’ Bipasha Basu, international event ambassador Donovan Bailey and Rahul Bose.
The world’s finest distance runners will take center stage on the grand platform that has been set up for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, the world’s most prestigious half marathon, which will be flagged off from the iconic J N Stadium on Sunday.
Keeping them company will be India’s best long distance athletes as well as 31,000 plus participants, competing in the different categories on race day.
Weather predictions for Sunday’s race are good with temperatures expected to range between 8 and 12 degrees during the race. In the men’s elite race, 18 international men will be paced by Timothy Kiptoo and Vincent Rono through around 12kms in 59.00 minutes pace, en route to attack the current Course Record of 59.15. It is expected to be a tight and competitive race amongst some of the key figures, including 2013 World Leader Geoffrey Kipsang (58.54), 2012 World Leader Atsedu Tsegay (58.47) and 2012 ADHM Champion Edwin Kipyego. Some dark horses in the packed elite field are 2013 Bangalore 10km Champion Alex Oloitiptip and 2012 Seven Hills Race champion Nicholas Kipkemboi.
The women’s elite field is not to be underestimated either. Having defending Champion Wude Ayalew, 2013 World Leader Lucy Kabuu (66.09), 2012 World Half Marathon Champion Meseret Hailu, 2013 Berlin Marathon Champion Florence Kiplagat and Silver Medalist of the 2013 World Championships 10,000m Gladys Cherono competing for high honours, it is also expected to be close race. The outsider on the women’s side is double World Cross Champion Emily Chebet.
The Indian men’s race is also expected to be a close race with no clear favourite, though defending champion Rahul Kumar Pal and his teammates from the Army, Kheta Ram V L Dangi, G Lakshmanan and Irappa D Akki, are expected to hold sway over the field. In good form is also Indrajeet Patel of ONGC and Rati Ram Saini of Railways, who are also a part of the Indian camp.
The Indian women’s race will see a fight between the big three of Indian distance running, defending champion Sudha Singh, Preeja Sredharan and Kavita Raut. Former winner Lalita Babbar and Manisha Salunkhe can be expected to chase the lead pack closely.
Sudha Singh said, “I have been practicing for the last month at our national training camp in Bangalore and I have been working hard for the Commonwealth and Asian games. This time too, I will try my best to come in the top 3.”
Preeja Sreedharan stated, “This is my first time in Delhi, and I have been training hard at our camp in Munnar. This event will serve as a good practise race for me as I prepare for the Commonwealth and Asian Games.”
The Half Marathon for Elite men will start at 7.20 am, followed by the Half Marathon for Elite women at 7.25 am. The DHL Corporate Champions race will be flagged off at 7.30 am, followed by the various timed categories in the Open Half Marathon, which will be flagged off between 7.40 am and 8.00 am. These will be followed by the Champions With Disability at 8.10 am, the Senior Citizens’ Run at 8.20 am and the Great Delhi Run at 9.30 am.
As part of the distance running tradition, promoters Procam International organised the ‘Pasta with Pundit’s. The event witnessed a live pasta cook-out involving event ambassador Donovan Bailey, the face of the event Bipasha Basu, Milkha Singh, Rahul Bose, Frank Schloder – Director Marketing, BMW, Meena Bhatia of Le Meridien, Mukul Chowdhury, Director General, NADA, Anil & Vivek Singh from Promoters, Procam International as they wore their toque's and experimented their culinary skills.
The race day will also see in action different personalities from India Inc. and Bollywood. Representing India Inc, will be the country’s top honchos and running enthusiast Anil Ambani, Gopal Vittal and N Chandrasekaran.
The Bollywood fraternity would be represented by Bipsha Basu, Face of the event along with Rahul Bose, Manisha Koirala, Mahima Choudhury and Gulshan Grover among others.
Race Day proceedings will be telecast live on Star Sports 4, the Channel Partner from 7.00 am to 10.00 am with a simulcast on DD Sports, the Broadcast Partner.