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Kirui on for Delhi spice

Monaco, Thursday @PeopleSports11

World champions Geoffrey Kirui (pictured) and Almaz Ayana will headline the fields at the 13th Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on November 19.

Kirui, who won the men’s marathon at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 this summer, knows what the racing in Delhi is all about and is familiar with the picturesque circuit. The Kenyan runner was sixth in a high-quality affair two years ago, the race which advertised that he was one of the rising stars of distance running, when he set his current personal best of 59:38.

By contrast, the reigning world 10,000m champion Ayana will be setting foot on Indian soil for the first time and will also be making her debut over the half marathon distance.

However, all eyes will be on the Ethiopian to see whether she can transfer her stunning form on the track in the last two years, which also saw her break the 10,000m world record when winning gold over 25 laps of the track in Rio, to the roads.

Both runners, and the rest of the elite field which was announced on Wednesday, will be chasing the very strong course records in Delhi. The men’s course record is 59:06 and was set by Ethiopia’s Guye Adola in 2014 while the women’s course record has been standing since 2009 and belongs to Kenya’s Mary Keitany at 1:06:54.

Nevertheless, despite his fine credentials which also include a win in the Boston Marathon back in April, Kirui will not start as a prohibitive favourite.

Three of his compatriots have run under 59 minutes, with the in-form Jorum Okumbo the fastest man in the field having run 58:48 earlier this year, while Ethiopia’s Yigrem Demelash was second in 2016 and determined to climb one step higher on the podium this time around. -IAAP

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