Ethiopia’s Birhanu Legese won the 2015 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon today (29) after clocking 59:20 minutes while his compatriot Mosinet Geremew, who was third in 2014, finished a second later. Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, the world record holder in half marathon, finished third in 59:24 minutes.
Kenyans Edwin Kiptoo (59:26 minutes) and Jonathan Maiyo (59:26 minutes) finished fourth and fifth respectively while Abrar Osman from Eritrea finished 7th at 1:00:39 minutes.
Tadese said someone stepped on his shoe at the eight-km mark, forcing him to stop and put it back on and join the leading group of racers.
A leading pack of 10 runners went through 10km in 27:56 minutes, five men were still in contention with just 500 metres to go ahead of the finish line.
After an initial surge by Geremew, Legese overtook his compatriot with barely 100 metres remaining before breasting the ribbon.
It was the first time in the year that six athletes completed the half marathon under 60 minutes.
“I am very happy, I enjoyed the course and enjoyed the race. It was very easy for me,” reflected 21 years old Legese, whose winning time equalled the third fastest mark in the world this year.
Legese first came to international attention as a 19-year-old when he ran 27:34 to finish second at the well-known Taroudant 10km road race in Morocco. His first half marathon came in the German capital eight months ago and he returned to form in Delhi after two relatively lacklustre half marathons in September.
As the fastest Ethiopian on the 2015 world lists, Legese will possibly make his international championship debut at the IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships Cardiff 2016 on 26 March next year, where he potentially could bid to give his country its first individual men’s title since Haile Gebrselassie also won on British soil, in nearby Bristol, back in 2001.
Eritrea’s world record holder and four-time half marathon world champion Zersenay Tadese, now 33, is another man who may well be in Cardiff.
Strength in depth in Delhi
In Delhi, Tadese did not quite have the sheer acceleration of his younger rivals over the final few hundred metres on Sunday but will still have been satisfied with third place in 59:24, his fastest time for more than four years.
Tadese has won the world half marathon title four times, as well as the gold medal over 20km in 2006 when the event was known as the IAAF World Road Running Championships. The Eritrean set the existing world record of 58:23 at the 2010 Lisbon Half Marathon.
Now 33, Tadese added to his list of accolades over the distance earlier this year when he won the half marathon gold medal at the All Africa Games.