World record holders Brigid Kosgei and Ababel Yeshaneh have been added to the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon women’s field, making the 16th edition of this World Athletics Gold Label race on November 29 the strongest in the history of event - and one of the strongest half marathon contests in the world in 2020.
At the Chicago Marathon in October 2019, Kenya’s Kosgei stunned the world when she broke the long-standing women’s world marathon record by more than a minute, clocking 2:14:04. Yeshaneh was a distant second on that occasion but nevertheless still ran a superb personal best of 2:20:51.
However, the tables were turned at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in February this year when a head-to-head contest in the final stages of the race saw Ethiopia’s Yeshaneh prevail in a world record 1:04:31 with Kosgei second in 1:04:49.
In their most recent outings last month, the 26-year-old Kosgei won the rescheduled London Marathon in 2:18:58 while the 29-year-old Yeshaneh had to contend with misfortune and fell at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland, with just over three kilometres remaining, which took her out of medal contention although she recovered quickly to finish fifth.
A trio of Ethiopian runners have already been announced that will provide stiff competition for Kosgei and Yeshaneh as well as a host of other world-class athletes.
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Women’s course record holder Tsehay Gemechu is seeking an unprecedented third successive victory. In 2019, Gemechu improved her own course record from 12 months earlier by no less than 50 seconds when she stopped the clocking 1:06:00.
Yeshaneh and Gemechu’s compatriots on the start line in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium include Yalemzerf Yehualaw and Netsanet Gudeta.
Yehualaw ?nished second in the ADHM 2019, just one second behind Gemechu, and third at the 2020 World Championships last month in a personal best of 1:05:19 while Gudeta finished eighth in Poland but was the 2018 world half marathon champion.
Both the men’s and women’s races have first prize cheques of US$27,000, part of a total prize money purse (combined men and women) of US$233,270.
This year’s race will be unlike any previous edition with only an estimated 60 elite international and Indian runners in action on the Delhi roads, with the traditional start and finish still in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
The event will follow the highest level of safety standards, with bio-secure zones to ensure a Covid-free race for the runners.