One of the world’s fastest half-marathoners Ethiopian Atsedu Tsegay has confirmed his participation for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon.

The 21-year-old Tsegay clocked 58.47 minutes when he won the Prague half-marathon in March. His attempt at the world record was, however, thwarted by the windy conditions there.

However, a 6.30 a.m. start in New Delhi and the flat course should give Tsegay perfect conditions to attempt to lower the world record that stands at 58.23 set by Eritrean Zersenay Tadese in 2010.

Tsegay will lead a talented field of fellow Ethiopians. Among them defending champion Lelisa Desisa and course record holder Deriba Merga will be engaged in an exciting battle for supremacy against athletes field from Kenya, when the eighth edition of the half-marathon will be flagged-off from the iconic Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Sep 30.

Besides a total prize money purse of $210,000, there are bonuses of $25,000 for a new world record and $10,000 for a new course record as well.

The event will also see representation from Morocco, Tanzania, South Africa and Bahrain.

Defending champ Desisa will also be looking to lower the world record whose personal best is 59.30.

Two-time winner Merga holds the course record at 59.15, set in 2009. He recently clocked 59.48 finishing second in the New York City half marathon.

The Kenyan challenge will be spearheaded by Ezekiel Chebii, who clocked 59.05 while winning the Lille half marathon early this month.

Running alongside him will be Gilbert Masai, who clocked 59.57 while finishing 4th at Lille.

The women’s race too will see a battle between the Kenyans and Ethiopians with Namibia’s Helalia Johannes, who finished 12th in the marathon at the London Olympics, emerging as the dark horse.

The Kenyans will be led by Helah Kiprop and Caroline Kilel, with Helen Kimutai and Irene Mogaka also names to watch out for.

Helah, the winner of the World 10K Bangalore 2012, also won the Groesbeek 10K and the Zwolle half marathon this year and has three sub-70 half marathon finishes this year.

Caroline Kilel, who has a personal best of 68.16, clocked a fast 68.26 while finishing 2nd in the Houston half-marathon this year won the Boston marathon in 2011.

The Ethiopians will be led by Aselefech Mergia, twice winner here and winner of the Dubai Marathon 2012, and Belaynesh Oljira, winner of the Houston half marathon 2012.

The Delhi Half Marathon has seen a steady progression in the winning times of the men and women, with Kenyan Philip Rugut winning the first edition in 2005 clocking 61.54 and Lelisa Desisa stopping the clock at 59.30 in 2011.

In between was Merga’s super fast timing of 59.15 set in 2008, which remains the course record.

Among the women, the first edition saw Russia’s Irina Timofeyeca winning in 70.35, while Kenyan Lucy Kabuu brought it down to 67.04 in 2011.

The course record for the women stands in the name of Kenyan Mary Keitany, who clocked an incredible 66.54 while winning in 2009. Keitany also holds the world record of 65.50.

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