Sports Reporter

NEW DELHI: Haile Gebrselassie, one of the greatest distance runners of all time, will be the chief attraction at the 2006 Hutch Delhi half marathon on October 15.

Sadly, the two-time Olympic gold medallist, will not run on Delhi roads, something he has been doing all over the world since taking up marathon running after failing to defend his 10,000m title at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Gebrselassie, who won four successive gold medals in 10,000m since the 1993 World championships, will be the brand ambassador of the second edition of the Hutch Delhi half marathon. The Ethiopian will be in India in October to promote the event, which offers $150,000 in prize money, making it the world's richest half marathon.

Tennis legend Vijay Amritraj is the other brand ambassador for the marathon. Amritraj was present at the launch here on Tuesday along with Asim Ghosh, Managing Director, Hutchisson Essar, the title sponsor, and Ratan Jindal, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Jindal Stainless, the associate sponsor.

Readiness test

After the successful inaugural run in 2005, the half-marathon is back in Delhi to test the readiness of the city to host big sporting events ahead of its date with the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Terming Delhi as the half marathon capital of the world, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President, Suresh Kalmadi, said that the event would help Delhi showcase itself and provide proof of its organisational capabilities.

A total of 25,000 are expected to participate in the event, which will be conducted in four categories. Besides the main event, there will be Great Delhi Run over 7 km, the Senior Citizen's Run and the wheelchair run over 4.3 km. The registration for the run will begin on August 10.

IAAF ratification

The world athletics body, IAAF, and the world marathon governing body, AIMS, has ratified the event. About 40 of the top 100 runners are expected to participate in the half marathon.

The men's winner will gain $20,000 while the women's winner takes home $15,000 with prize money up to 10th place. There will be separate prizes for the Indian runners with the men's winner assured of $2,500 and the women's $2,000, said Lalit K. Bhanot, the Race Director and Secretary of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).

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