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Merga retains Delhi Half Marathon title

November 01, 2009 17:19 IST

Olympian Deriba Merga of Ethiopia survived stiff competition to defend the men's title, while reigning world champion Mary Keitany of Kenya created a new record to be named champion in the women's category of the $210,000 Delhi Half Marathon in New Delhi on Sunday.

It was never an easy task for Merga, who clocked 59:54 minutes to cover the stipulated 21.097 km, as compatriot Eshetu Wendimu and last year's runner-up Wilson Kipsang of Kenya followed close on his heels throughout the race.

Wendimu (1.00.02) finished second, followed by Kipsang (1.00.04), who came nowhere near his last year's performance due to a toe injury.

"Although I am happy to retain the title, I am not satisfied with my performance. I tried to push from beginning of the race but then slowed down a bit to the end," Merga said.

The Ethiopian registered his personal best timing of 59.15 minutes at the event last year.

Keitany, who won the World Half Marathon Championship in England recently, took one hour 6.54 minutes to touch the finish line bettering the previous record of 68.17 minutes.

Ethiopian Ayelew Wude (1.07:58) came second, followed by compatriot Aberu Kebede (1.07:59).

"It was a good performance on a flat track. I slowed down after 15km but later recovered well. I am satisfied with the performance," Keitany said.

Meanwhile, Armyman Deepchand Saharan (1.04:00) finished first among Indian men and overall 17th in the race.

Deepchand, also a 2010 Commonwealth Games probable, was followed by Railwaymen Santosh Kumar (1.05:10) and Soji Mathews (1.05:18), who ranked overall 18th and 19th respectively.

Uttar Pradesh's Sukanya Mall (1.20:11) was the fastest Indian woman who finished 22nd overall.

Two of her statemates Anuradha Singh (1.22:07) and Kamlesh Baghel (1.23:43) finished behind Mall with overall standings of 24th and 25th respectively.

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