Thousands of runners underwent a hazy morning run on last Sunday (19 November) at the Airtel Delhi half marathon despite serious health warnings from doctors who fought for the controversial race in the heavily polluted city to be postponed.
The Indian capital has been plagued with almost two weeks of hazardous smog that forced schools shut for several days. The levels of the harmful airborne pollutants hovered above 200 – eight times the World Health Organization’s safe maximum – for the duration of the 21km race, the US embassy website indicated on Sunday.
The course was sprayed with salted water to keep dust levels down and all traffic barred from nearby roads and several participants wore pollution masks during the race. Others have complaining of side effects from the polluted conditions such as dry throat, burning eyes and difficulty in breathing.
Despite described as a public health emergency, the race organisers refused to postpone the event and declared the event an unequivocal success that “lived up to its legacy of being the world’s most prestigious half marathon”. The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon is an annual half marathon footrace held in New Delhi, India since 2005.
Doctors warn running in severe pollution can trigger asthma attacks, worsen lung conditions and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
During this time of the year, pollution surged across north India and Pakistan due to burning of post-harvest crop stubble and the lower temperature prevent pollutants from dispersing.
Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world as authorities are still trying to find a way to curb the serious pollution issues.
Singapore has also been hit with haze pollution issue in recent years however the authority and race organiser would not allow an outdoor event to continue when the pollution rating rise to unhealthy level.
Featured Photo Credit: SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images