Leonard Korir Runs 59:52 to Become Second American Under One Hour Barrier – Airtel Delhi Half Marathon

by LetsRun.com
November 19, 2017

Updated with press release and adjusting Korir’s time to 59:52 from 59:51, and place from 2nd to 3rd.

Leonard Korir’s fabulous 2017 continued Sunday morning at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in India, as Korir became the second American man to run under 60:00 in the half marathon, running 59:52 for 3rd place behind Berhanu Legese (59:46) and Andamlak Belihu (59:51).

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Race press release and results:

Ethiopian runners Berhanu Legese and Almaz Ayana took the honours at the 13th edition of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon – and the 10th anniversary of Airtel as the title sponsor of the prestigious race – crossing the line in the Indian city’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in 59:46 and
1:07:11 respectively to take US$27,000 first prize cheques on Sunday (19).

Legese, now 23, regained the title he won two years ago after pulling away in the final half- kilometre from four rivals.

Berhanu Legese winning at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2017

Berhanu Legese winning at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2017

His teenage compatriot Adamlak Belihu followed Legese home and clocked 59:51 on his debut over the distance. Despite having to settle for second on this occasion, it was still a stunning performance from Belihu who turns just 19 on Monday. Following the two Ethiopians home was USA’s Leonard Korir who clocked 59:52, the second fastest time ever by an American and just nine seconds shy of the US record. Entering the final kilometre, any one of five men could have still potentially won and all five went under the one-hour barrier, with another four under 61 minutes, to provide a race of memorable depth and quality. Ethiopia’s Asefa Negewo went under 60 minutes for the first time, taking more than a minute off his best, when finishing fourth in 59:54 while Kenya’s Jorum Okumbo, still only 19 himself,
was fifth in 59:58.

IAAF World Championships London 2017 marathon gold medallist Geoffrey Kirui had his first race since winning his world title but lacked just a little bit of sharpness compared to his rivals and slipped out of contention late in the race before coming home sixth in 1:00:04.

Reigning world 10,000m champion Ayana was making her debut over the half marathon distance but hardly looked like a novice as she led home an Ethiopian clean sweep of the podium positions in the women’s race.

Almaz Ayana winning at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2017

Almaz Ayana winning at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2017

Like in the men’s race, the outcome was decided in the final kilometre as Ayana pulled away from her rivals on the approach to the stadium. Ababel Yeshaneh was second again, as she was in 2016, and set a personal best for the second consecutive year as well, crossing the line in 1:07:19 to slice 33 seconds from her time of 12 months ago. Completing the all-Ethiopian top three, Netsanet Gudeta also set a personal best of 1:07:24 to improve her best by seven seconds.

Finishing further down the order, there were huge cheers and delight for Indian international Loganathan Suriya in eighth place. Suriya missed out on medals at the Asian Championships in July when she finished fourth in the 5000m and 10,000m and failed to secure a place in the Indian team going to the world championships the following month.

However, she got partial compensation for those disappointments when she finished in an Indian half marathon record of 1:10:29, improving the record set by Lalita Babar in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2015 by 33 seconds. Her performance should be good enough to secure her a place on the start line of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in the Spanish city of Valencia next March, which would be her first global championship outing.

As the only IAAF Gold Label Road Race in India, the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon can rightly claim to be the nation’s top distance running event and it has secured its place as one of the most prestigious half marathons in the world with a total prize money purse (combined men and women) of US$284,000.

Leading finishers:
1. Berhanu Legese (ETH) 59:46
2. Andamlak Belihu (ETH) 59:51
3. Leonard Korir (USA) 59:52
4. Asefa Negewo (ETH) 59:54
5. Jorum Okumbo (KEN) 59:58
6. Geoffrey Kirui (KEN) 1:00:04
7. Edwin Kiptoo (KEN) 1:00:06
8.Abadi Hadis (ETH) 1:00:25
9. John Langat (ETH) 1:00:41
10. Nitendra Singh Rawat (IND) 1:03:53
1. Almaz Ayana (ETH) 1:07:11
2. Ababel Yeshaneh (ETH) 1:07:19
3. Netsanet Gudeta (ETH) 1:07:24
4. Helah Kiprop (KEN) 1:08:07
5. Worknesh Degefa (ETH) 1:08:09
6. Paskalia Chepkorhir (KEN) 1:08:46
7. Veronica Nyaruai (KEN) 1:09:02
8. Loganathan Suriya (IND) 1:10:29
9. Daria Maslova (KGZ) 1:11:28
10. Sudha Singh (IND) 1:11:28


The field in Delhi was stacked and featured World and Boston Marathon champ Geoffrey Kirui and sub 59 half guys Jorum Okumbo and Alex Korio.

The US All-Time list at the half marathon now looks like this:

1. Ryan Hall 59:43
2. Leonard Korir 59:51
3. Dathan Ritzenhein 60:00

Korir celebrated wearing some traditional Indian clothing.

On the women’s side world 10,000m record holder Almaz Ayana made her half-marathon debut and got the win in 1:07:11.

Discuss: Leonard Korir Runs 59:51 to Become 2nd American Sub 60:00 in Half Marathon!!!! –