New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS) Race promoters Procam International have announced that Ethiopia's Andamlak Belihu and Tsehay Gemechu will return to the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon to defend their titles at the 15th edition of this prestigious IAAF Gold Label Road Race on October 20.
Belihu won last year in 59:18, just missing out on the course record of 59:06 held since 2014 by his compatriot Guye Adola.
"Immediately after last year's race I said that I was going to come back to Delhi in 2019 as I had unfinished business with the course record and I am keeping my promise," commented Belihu, who will still be just 20 on race day.
He returned to India in May earlier this year to also win the TCS World 10K title in Bengaluru, another IAAF Gold Label Road Race promoted by Procam International.
No less than eight men in the ADHM 2019 elite field have run under the world class benchmark of one hour but much of the attention will be on a man who has yet to run the distance, Hagos Gebrhiwet. Gebrhiwet had planned to make his half marathon debut in Delhi last year but a late bout of illness curtailed his training. However, he will stand on the start line this year and could come to Delhi clutching another world championships medal on the track, to add to the two he has already won over 5000m from 2013 and 2015.
He has been named in the Ethiopian team for both the 5000m and the 10,000m -- and leads the world this year over the longer distance -- at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 which gets underway on Friday.
The fastest man in Delhi this year will be Erick Kiptanui. The Kenyan notched up two impressive half marathon victories in 2018 when winning the high-quality Lisbon and Berlin races.
Last year, Tsehay Gemechu made a huge impact on her debut over the distance when she set an Airtel Delhi Half Marathon women's course record of 66:50 and in 2019 she has shown it was no fluke with a string of sparkling performances both on the roads and the track, including taking the African Games 10,000m title.
The 21-year-old Gemechu has also been named in the Ethiopian team for the 5000m and 10,000m at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha.
The fastest woman in the ADHM 2019 elite field will be Caroline Kipkirui. The Kenyan-born runner, who now competes under the Kazakhstan flag, set a personal best of 65:07 in the 2018 Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon.
"As we countdown to the landmark 15th edition of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, we are humbled, that ADHM, has become one of the most prestigious and highly regarded half marathons in the world. We are excited to have both our defending champions, back at ADHM 2019. The fact that they may be on the start line in Delhi, with medals from Doha to their name, will enhance the events profile and appeal, within India and internationally," commented Vivek Singh, joint managing director of race promoters Procam International.