Ayana bags maiden gold and Legese wins men's race
New Delhi: Ethiopia's current woman world athlete of the year Almaz Ayana clinched gold while compatriot Berhanu Legese won the men's event in the Delhi Half Marathon on Sunday as thousands of Delhiites turned up despite concerns of air pollution.
Ayana, who set the 10,000m world record while winning the gold in Rio Olympics, transferred her stunning form on track to road race as she clocked one hour, seven minutes and 11 seconds to emerge champion in her maiden half marathon race.
Ethiopians ran away with all three top positions as Ayana's compatriots Ababel Yeshaneh and Netsanet Gudeta were second and third in the elite women's race, clocking 1:07:19 and 1:07:24 respectively to cover the 21.097km distance.
Defending champion Worknesh Degefa was fifth in 1:08:09. In the men's elite race, 2015 winner Legese bagged the gold in 59 minutes and 46 seconds while another Ethiopian Anadamlak Belihu was second in 59:51. Leonard Korir of United States was third in 59:52. Reiging world marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya finished sixth in 1:00.04.
Ayana and Legese, however, could not break the course records of 1:06:54 and 59:06 respectively, which still stand in the names of Mary Keitany (2009) of Kenya and Guye Adola (2014) of Ethiopia.
Both Ayana and Legese pocketed identical USD 27,000 as winners' prize money.
Ayana, who will turn 26 on Tuesday, was running in her debut half marathon though it was the second road race of her career (after 10km race in Angola in 2010).
"I was a bit nervous and confused, not knowing what to do, whether to follow other runners and to take the lead. The course was very good but the chilly weather created some problem," she said after the race.