Gebrselassie, Sachin to flag off Sunday’s IDBI marathon (Preview)

New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) Two time Olympics medallist Haile Gebrselassie from Ethiopia and Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar will flag off all the four races of the second IDBI Federal Life Insurance marathon from the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Sunday.

The marathon will feature some of the biggest track and field and distance runners, with a total of 67 elite athletes on the starting line.

Top Indian elite athletes G. Lakshmanan, Gopi T, Bahadur Singh Dhoni, Rashpal Singh in the men’s category and Jyoti Gawate, Monika Athare and Ranjana Kumari in the women’s field will aim to win the top spot at the marathon, which recently received national status by the Athletic Federation of India (AFI).

Gopi, the Rio Olympian is aiming to break his record and win the title. With a timing of 2:19, this is the first time he is running in a full marathon in the capital.

“The full marathon route is good to run and this will help me to finish the race easily which will help me to win the title and qualify for world championship,” he said.

G. Lakshamanan is an experienced runner and winner of all half marathons in India in the past one year also exuded confidence of winning the title on Sunday.

Dhoni, who stood second in the full marathon in Mumbai is too looking forward to give his best performance.

“I will give my competitors a tough race. I’m also sure that I’ll learn something new from my competitors as we all are a part of Army Sports Institute,” he said.

Olympian Kheta Ram who will be participating in the half marathon category, is positive about winning the event despite an injury he sustained in Mumbai last month.

Among the female athletes, Jyoti Gawate, who won the Mumbai Marathon is a top contender for the title.

“As I had won the Mumbai Marathon last month, I am positive that I will give my best tomorrow and try to win the title. There is tough competition and I am sure everyone is eyeing to give their best,” she said.

Making her full marathon debut, Monica Athre, winner of Delhi Half Marathon 2016 with a timing of 1:15 is also eyeing to qualify for the world championship.

“The weather here is very similar to my hometown Nashik which is why I feel that I will be able to finish the race easily and set my best record. The early 5 AM start will also benefit all the runners. This will improve my time and will help me to qualify for the world championship,” She said.

Sharing his views about the second edition of the marathon Race Director Nagaraj Adiga said: “I feel proud to announce that the number of participating athletes have doubled from the last year. We will be having full marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5k Swachch Bharat Run which will see 13,000 participants on Sunday.”

“Our vision is to see the Indian athletes achieve top position in India with international standard of running experience. The prize money of Rs 23 lakh across various categories will also motivate the athletes to train harder,” he added.