New Delhi, Sept 27 (UNI) Four of the world's top ten half marathoners, who can run in sub 60 seconds, are expected to provide the rechristened Vodafone Delhi Half Marathon on October 28 a much tougher competition than last year even as the organisers are expecting a much bigger event this year.
The organisers said at the last count 25,000 runners have registered and they were expecting the number of participants to touch 30,000 mark after counting the last minute applications though the registration process has already been closed.
All of the world's top four runners taking part in the third edition this year are from Kenya and they would be looking to a repeat of last year's strong show in both men and women categories.
Last year, named Hutch Delhi Half Marathon then, six of the top ten in the men's section and five in the women's section were Kenyans.
This year, defending champion Francis Kibiwott, who ran a personal best of 59.26 in April in Berlin, will have tough challengers in compatriots Patrick Makau Musyoki (58.56) and Evans Cheruyiot (59.12).
Patrick won the Berlin Half Marathon in April this year, clocking 58.56, the fourth fastest time ever, while Kibiwott and Cheruyiot were second and third respectively.
The fourth top Kenyan in the fray is Philip Rugut who won here in the first edition in 2005 and fourth last year. He has a personal best of 59.45.
Among women, Lineth Chepkirui of Kenya will also return to defend her title but she will have to put in extra effort as three runners -- two compatriots and one Russian -- who have better personal best timings than her have confirmed participation.
The organisers did not give out the names of Indian runners though they confirmed that defending champions among Indians will be in action.
Vodafone Essar Director Operations Sanjay said the event was getting bigger as total number of participants this year has crossed 25,000 and expecting to reach 30,000.
The Half Marathon category will have a cut off of maximum 10,000 participants while the remaining three categories -- Great Delhi Run, Senior Citizens' Run and Wheelchair Event -- will have maximum of 18,000, 2,500 and 200 respectrively.
Vivek Singh, Joint Managing Director of tournament promoters Procam International, said Senior Citizens' and Wheelchair categories have been completely filled up and the figures for the Half Marathon have been fast filling up.