Sudha, Pal best among Indians in Delhi Half Marathon
Asian Games steeplechase gold medallist Sudha Singh and Rahul Kumar Pal took the honours at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon elite Indian women and men's race in hot and humid conditions here Sunday.
Services man Pal, the reigning World 10,000 Bangalore champion, clocked 1:06.12 hours to be the first Indian to cross the finish line at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Pal emerged the dark horse. He had also won the 5,000 metres race in the Open National Athletics in Chennai earlier this month.
Army man Nitender Singh crossed the line two seconds later for the second spot, edging out Indrajeet Patel by just one second, who finished third.
However, the timings were slower than previous year's as defending champion Suresh Kumar had timed 1:04.08. The course record for Indian men's athletes is 1:04.00 set by Deepchand Saharan in 2009.
Among the elite Indian women, Olympian Sudha Singh clocked 1:19.34. She was followed in the second place by 2007 and 2008 winner Kavita Raut (1:19.53) and the third place by defending champion Lalita Babbar (1:20.47).
Sudha, who participated in London Olympics in 3,000-metre steeplechase, trained in Eldoret, Kenya, for six months before the Games to improve her timing by practicing at higher altitudes.
"My stint in Kenya helped me bring down my timings by almost eight-nine seconds. Training at higher altitudes helps you bring your time down when you run at sea level," said Sudha, who is an Asian Games 10K gold medallist.
Sudha along with many other athletes also complained of the weather Sunday.
"It was hot and I did not have much practice in running in this kind of temperature. Kavita and me chose to stay together and in the end I made that extra effort which helped me win the race," said Sudha.
The women, however, were way behind the course record of 1:07.12 set by Kavita in 2008.
"I participated this year because I wanted to test my fitness levels. My next target is World Championship in Moscow next year and the 2014 Asian Games. So these races are basically a preparation for the future," said Kavita.
In the elite men's section, the race was won by Kenyan Edwin Kipyego who clocked 1:00.55 while Yimer Wude of Ethiopia took the honours among elite women with a timing of 1:11.10 in the eight edition of the Delhi Half Marathon.
Close to 32,000 participated across various categories of the event such as Great Delhi Run, Senior Citizen's run and the wheelchair event apart from the half marathon.