Illustration: Shyam G Menon

The 2020 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM), scheduled to be held on November 29, will be a combination of physical race and virtual running event, the organizers announced recently.  The physical race will be restricted to elite athletes.

ADHM is a World Athletics Gold Label Road Race. It is a prominent event; one that has come to feature on the bio-data of many of today’s top distance runners. Given the ongoing pandemic, the physical race of 2020 will feature high safety standards and have a bio-bubble in place. This pattern is similar to what was seen at the 2020 London Marathon, the physical version of which was run as an elites-only race. However unlike in London, where the normal course was traded for a bio-secure loop of shorter dimension (the runners repeated it several times), the elites running at ADHM will follow the race’s regular course. There will be no short loop being repeated to accumulate the distance of a half marathon, it is reliably learnt. 

“ While the Elite runners will be at the start line at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, on the 29th November, amateurs from across the globe will join them via the exclusive Airtel Delhi Half Marathon Mobile App. Participation this year will be from a convenient location, wherever you are,’’ an official statement dated October 31, 2020, available on the website of Procam International, said. According to it, the event’s elite athlete coordinator will put together a highly competitive field of elite athletes for the 2020 edition.

Registration for the event’s three race categories began on October 30.

“ Supported by Government of NCT of Delhi, the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Ministry of External Affairs, Sports Authority of India, Athletics Federation of India, World Athletics (WA), Association of International Marathons & Distance Races (AIMS) our sponsors and partners; ADHM 2020 will once again have the best athletes from around the world, running alongside our national elite, in the heart of our capital city,’’ the statement said, adding, “ Airtel Delhi Half Marathon will follow the highest level of safety-standards, with bio-secure zones to ensure a COVID free race for the elite runners.’’

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

The statement quoted Hugh Jones, Race Director as saying, “ With sport slowly but surely resuming world-over, being able to host the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon is good news for runners.  The event has always attracted some of the world’s best athletes and we are humbled to open our gates to them once again this year. The teams have been in detailed discussions with all stakeholders to work out the best possible option for our elites. Their safety and well-being are our top priority.”

ADHM’s specialized event app will have an array of features for enhanced running experience; timing and distance tracker, inspiring audio soundscapes and much more.

Running events had ground to a halt in India following COVID-19 and the related lockdown from late March. Tracking the trend worldwide, here too, major races were postponed or cancelled. At the time of writing, the website of TCS World 10K held annually in Bengaluru was still featuring the last announced prospective date of November 22 for its 2020 edition (reference: statement to media dated May 9, 2020). Procam International organizes TCS World 10K and ADHM. It is understood that talks are continuing with regard to TCS World 10K. For now, clarity on date and format is most with reference to ADHM.  

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)

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