Record runners for Delhi Half Marathon despite pollution

New Delhi, Nov 17: The city might be reeling under severe air pollution but Delhi Half Marathon organisers claim it has not affected registration for the event, where 35,000 people have signed up for participation -- a 1000 more than last year.

The 13th edition of the race, one of the top half marathons in the world, has been mired in controversy after the Indian Medical Association called for its cancellation owing to the smog in the natonal capital. 

Around 30,000 had taken part in the race in 2015 and the numbers have touched 35,000 this year, according to race organisers, Procam International.

"It's great to see that how event registrations close much before the stipulated date and we are glad that ADHM has played a transformational role in bringing communities together," Vivek Singh, Joint Managing Director, Procam International, told PTI. 

Out of these 35,000 participants, 13,216 (elite and amateur together) will run in the half marathon (21.097km) distance, while the remaining will take part in five categories of Great Delhi Run, Timed 10K Run, Senior Citizens Run and Champions with Disability Run.

Among the elite runners are 24 top contestants from abroad who will vie for the top prize of USD 27,000 each in both men's and women's category, including the likes of reigning world marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya and world and Olympic 10,000m gold madallist Almaz Ayana of 

In 2016, 12,844 ran in half marathon distance while there 13,200 took part in the category in 2015.

The Delhi Half Marathon is one of the 10 in the world to be granted the highest Gold Label road race by the world governing body of athletics -- IAAF. But in the past three years there have been calls to cancel or postpone the race from the November slot due to severe air pollution in the city.