Kochi: An array of top athletes, including Kenyans Emmanuel Mutai and Helah Kiprop will lead the men`s and women`s section respectively in the first International Kochi half marathon to be held here on Sunday.
Mutai, a winner of the 2011 London marathon and runner up at the 2013 Chicago marathon and considered the fourth fastest man in the world, Bernard Kipyego, Michael Kipyego, Merkebu Birke Ayele and Abere Belay, Sammy Korir, Melaku Bizunesh are among the 15 athletes participating from abroad.
Twenty-eight-year old Helah, who had come fourth in the Berlin marathon said she was here to enjoy and was not looking for breaking any records. She had won the the Hyderabad marathon and finished third in the Delhi half marathon.
Leila and Lilna Lulk, two sisters from Estonia, who have won several national competitions and marathons at home since 2010, said they were excited to participate in the Kochi half marathon. Their another sibling, Lily, could not make it due to injury, the sisters, who are triplets, said.
There will be three categories of races -- a 21 km marathon, a seven-km fun run in which about 5,000 amateurs will participate and a two-km celebrity run in which actors Mohanlal and Manju Warrier will take part.
Preeja Sreedharan is among the Indian athletes taking part in the Half marathon, which will commence at 6.15 am.
A 40 bed temporary hospital has been set up at the Maharajas College ground while 700 police personnel would be deployed in the city on Sunday for the marathon, Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany said.
While the winners will carry home USD 5000, the runnersup will get USD 3000. Indian athletes both men and women who finish winners and runners up will get Rs 3 lakh and Rs 1.5 lakh respectively.