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The Great Delhi Half Marathon Ė 9 November 2008

My day started with a 4.30 am wake up call in my room.  India is five and a half hours ahead of the UK and as I had only arrived back 24 hours earlier it felt like time to go to bed and not time to get up. I had managed four hours sleep and started on my breakfast before heading down for my taxi.

The race start was at 7.30am but we had been asked to be in the holding area by 6.30. The weather was a lot cooler than you would expect, around 22 degrees. I had collected my number and goody bag the day before at the expo and from then I could see this was a big running event for Delhi.  The holding area was a similar setup to Greenwich Park for the Flora London Marathon and I managed to make friends with a Mr Rajeev from Bangalore who showed me where to go for baggage and drinks. He explained to me that unlike the UK there are not many running events so when they do occur they are big events. Several thousand were expected for the race.

There were three races starting at the same time, the Great Delhi Half Marathon, a 6km seniors race and also the corporate relay challenge.  It was a mix of runners, from the elite Kenyans, to the local Indian running in jeans and white plimsolls or even bare feet.  In the field there were also a few Westerners, some of which I met on the route.

We set off on time, complete with chip timing and made our way onto the 21km route around the centre of Delhi heading up to India Gate on an out-and-back route.  There were water stations every couple of kilometres and I made sure I took on water each time as I did not know how hot it would get.  As it happened the heat and 60% humidity was not that much of an issue but the quality of air made it difficult to get into a breathing rhythm. There is a distinct smell to the Delhi air which could only be recreated by laps around a burning dungheap in Wimborne!

As I made my way, I joined up with another runner from South Africa and we stayed together for a few kilometers. I left him just after halfway and then began the game of trying to pass the Westerners in case they were British.  I passed and spoke to a man from Devon, a Scot from Edinburgh and a man from Harborough AC in Leicestershire who later told me his family live in Bournemouth (itís a small world).  The man from Leicester had been in Delhi last year just after the race and was determined to come back and run.  He feared the Delhi belly so had been living off pot noodles for three days!!

I crossed the line in 1 hour 39 minutes, not my greatest time but respectable given the circumstances. I met up with a few of the people I passed along the way and we chatted about our different reasons for being in Delhi and how everyone thought we were mad. I donít yet know where I came, or if I was first Briton and not sure how long it will take for the website to be updated.

The race definitely had a feel of the London Marathon, and it is billed as the richest half marathon in the world.  The organization was good and a medal at the end made a nice memento. Who knows if I will be back in Delhi again next year but if I was to be away again in the future, I would definitely look to do this again. If anyone is interested for next year see the below website but I would suggest car sharing!  http://adhm.indiatimes.com/


Craig Dixon


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