Top runners from across the world are expected to take part in the prestigious Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on Sunday, November 29, with organisers promising to provide bio-secure zones to ensure a COVID-19 free race for the elite runners. While the international and Indian elite runners will be at the start line at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here, the amateurs from across the globe will join them via the exclusive Airtel Delhi Half Marathon Mobile App. The staging of this marathon is being looked upon as a sign of hope amid the pandemic. However, with the danger looming large, how safely it is being organised remains a question.
In an exclusive interview with The Bridge, Mr Vivek Singh, the Joint MD of Procam International shared, "The outbreak of Coronavirus is obviously a concern not just in Delhi, but for all over India, but we felt something that can be done in a safe and secure manner should be done. And with this intention, we approached the government, the Ministries of Youth Affairs and Sports, Home Affairs, External Affairs, Family Health and Welfare. They have been wonderfully supportive of the marathon. Of course, we also got strong support from the Athletics Federation of India and World Athletics. When we saw the support from these bodies, we felt that the world's most prestigious half marathon should be held in Delhi."
In times like these, better sustainability options are being explored around the world. The organisers of the marathon have indeed taken a massive creative approach to conduct the event on Sunday. Every year, the marathon attracts thousands of amateur runners who run along with the elite athletes. This year, however, they won't be running alongside the elites. A special app for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon has been created. The amateurs will download the app and run from wherever they are in the country. "The app will have lap counters, it has got the sounds of Delhi. It will also feature the commentators who are commentating live on race day their voices recorded. It's a tracking app, it will track the distance of every runner. We got gratifications for our amateur runners, and they will run in spirit, but they will not run on the same course on the same day, they will run from wherever they are in their own safe and secure environments," says Singh. He adds, "We were keen that what we could do should happen. So the only way to do this was to do it through a digitally enabled way. And which is why the Airtel Delhi half marathon app was born."
More than 10,000 participants have already registered themselves in the ADHM app and 75 of the elite runners from the world and India. So how well will the bio-bubble be enabled in Delhi on the day of the marathon? Singh says, "We are lucky to have some great partners to join us. We have elite athletes, who are managed by global sports communication. And we have organisers, who have conducted marathons in Poland for the world half0marathon championships. They're doing it next weekend in Valencia. So they're very well versed with this. So the elite athletes actually arrived in Delhi with a COVID negative certificate. In addition to that, they'll be tested twice in Delhi. And only then will they be allowed to run on Sunday. Further to that, we have medical partners, who are fully aware of the covid protocols."
Registrations for all race categories of Half Marathon, 10Km, Great Delhi Run (5km) will stay open until November 27 on the event website, airteldelhihalfmarathon.procam.in.