New Delhi: Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia emerged victorious in the men's elite category, while Kenya's Lucy Kabuu won the women's title as more than 30,000 Delhiites braved a chilly Sunday morning to run at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon.

Two-time winner and course record holder Deriba Merga of Ethiopia pulled out of the event yesterday due to an injury.

 Merga, ranked fourth in the world and winner of titles in 2008 and 2009, holds the course record of 59.15 min clocked in 2008, which is his personal best in this distance.

Last edition's runner-up Desisa faced stiff competition from the Kenyan duo of Geoffrey Kipsang and Mike Kigen, who finished second and third respectively.

Desisa ran for 59 minutes and 30 secs to cover 21.097 km and pocket USD 25,000 winner's purse.

Kipsang, who was matching the pace of Desisa most of the distance, failed to accelerate towards the end and clocked 59 minutes and 31 seconds to settle for a silver. Kigen clocked 59 minutes and 58 seconds to win the bronze.

In the women's event, Kabuu led a Kenyan sweep, winning the race in one hour, seven minutes and four seconds with her compatriot Sharon Cherop clocking 1:07:08s to settle for silver.

Last year's winner, Ethiopia's Aselefch Mergia, failed to defend her title and settled for bronze clocking 1:07:21s.

Suresh Kumar (1:04:06) finished first among Indian men and overall 20th in the race. Kheta Ram (1:04:43) and V L Dangi (1:05:01) came second and third among Indian runners respectively.

Lalita Babbar successfully defended her title and was the fastest woman among Indians clocking 1:17:37, followed by Kiran Tiwari (1:17:58) and Swati Gadhave (1:20:55).
Each of the Indian top finishers would be richer by USD 4,000.

The Delhi Half Marathon has seen registrations reaching a record high, with all categories of the event oversubscribed, prompting event promoters Procam International to shut registrations much before Race Day.

Around 30,500 people descended on the streets of Delhi on Sunday to participate in the world's most prestigious Half Marathon, among them 8,368 having registered for the Half Marathon and 21,095 for the Great Delhi Run.

The Senior Citizens' Run saw around 815 participants, while 43 took part in the Wheelchair Event.

(Agencies)