The race for titles is expected to get intense in the Airtel Delhi half-marathon this year and 2006 Commonwealth Games women's 10,000m winner Lucy Wangui Kabuu has a feeling that the keen contest may end up producing a new world record.
The Kenyan, the fastest woman in the field, has won this year's Great North Run with a timing of 67.06. She expressed confidence about her own form and did not rule out bettering her compatriot Mary Keitany's world record of 65.50 set in Ras Al Khamiah in February last.
“The field is so competitive. So, when everyone is trying her best one may create a new world record,” said Lucy here on Friday.
Lucy, who made a comeback to competitive running after a gap of three years, will be backed up by Lydia Cheromei and Doris Changeywo, who recently showed great form in the Great South 10 miler in the United Kingdom.
Defending champion Aselefech Mergia, who defeated Doris for the 10 miler crown following her win at the Dubai marathon, was excited about her fifth visit to Delhi as she was getting ready to claim her third victory here.
“The people, the food, the money – everything is okay here,” she said.
Aselefech, who sensationally dropped out in the final km at the Taegu World championship marathon, would be banking on support from her fellow Ethiopians to counter the strong Kenyan field led by Lucy.
The other Ethiopians include last year's runner-up Merima Mohammed, former Worlds silver medallist Aberu Kebede and National record holder Mare Dibaba.
Kenyan Sammy Kitwara, the fastest man in the field, ran a stunning 58:48 in the USA in September this year and was aiming to better the course record of 58.15.
He, however, was not concerned about the “hot weather” of Delhi.
Kitwara will have to fight with Ethiopians Feyisa Lelisa and teammates Tilahun Regassa (the Ethiopian record holder) and Lelisa Desisa.
Twenty-one-year-old Feyisa – who gathered the marathon bronze in Taegu and achieved his personal best in 10000m, half-marathon and marathon in 2011 – said he felt at home in India. “India is like Ethiopia, people are good,” said Lelisa, who had finished fifth here in the last edition.
The Ethiopian said he had trained well in the build-up to this event and was looking to run a sub-59 minute race on Sunday. Meanwhile, former men's champion Deriba Merga has pulled out of the event due to a fitness issue.