The two-time defending champion at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, Andamlak Belihu, considers India to be his second home. And for a good reason too.
The Ethiopian has run three races in the country and has won them all. While two of his wins came at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in 2018 and 2019, the 22-year-old Belihu also came out on top at the TCS World 10K in Bengaluru last year. He now hopes to continue that streak into this season as well.
“I have been training very well. I was a bit disappointed with my fifth place at the World Half Marathon Championships in Poland last month. But I am in shape and very motivated to run well here,” Belihu said on Thursday.
Last year, the young runner looked on course for the record before struggling to cope with exhaustion. That saw him cross the finish line about four seconds behind the course record of 59:06, set by compatriot Guye Adola in 2014.
But having learnt from his mistakes, Andamlak Belihu hopes to time his race well.
“The conditions are often good here. Last year too, I tried to go below the record time, but I ended up falling short. But on Sunday I hope to better the course record,” he said.
Andamlak Belihu, however, will have to watch out for the two-time world champion in 5000m, Muktar Edris, this time. The 26-year-old Edris is set to make his road race debut on Sunday and hopes to put up a confident performance.
But with the Tokyo Olympics less than a year away, it’s surprising that the reigning 5000m world champion has decided to switch to road races at this point in his career.
The Ethiopian, though, thinks otherwise. “I have been planning on getting into road races for a while,” Edris explained.
“Yes, the Tokyo Olympics is the target. But this season has not been good. A lot of events got cancelled. So, when I got to know that this race is going ahead, I thought why not give it a go. Running here for me is a part of my training for the Olympics,” Muktar Edris explained.
It’s all set for an exciting Sunday. Delhi’s air is getting better and with winter already setting in, the runners will enjoy the conditions for sure.