Participants make their way along Rajpath during the Delhi half marathon, 19 November 2017. Photo: Chandan Khanna / AFP / Getty Images

19 November 2017 (Agence France-Presse) – Tens of thousands of runners Sunday choked through smog for the Delhi half marathon, ignoring dire health warnings from doctors who fought for the controversial race in the heavily polluted capital to be postponed.

More than 30,000 people, some sporting pollution masks, braved a hazy morning to run through the Indian capital despite almost two weeks of hazardous smog that forced schools shut for several days.

The US embassy website on Sunday showed levels of the smallest and most harmful airborne pollutants hovered near 200 - eight times the World Health Organization’s safe maximum - for the duration of the 13.1 mile (21 km) race.

Some athletes complained of side effects from the polluted conditions which worsened as amateur runners - the bulk of Sunday’s competitors - huffed and puffed around Delhi’s smoggy streets later in the morning.

“My eyes are burning, my throat is dry. I have a running nose,” said running enthusiast Rohit Mohan, a 30-year-old from the southern city of Bangalore who was among the minority donning a mask. “It’s been terrible since I landed here yesterday.”

Others expressed frustration at being forced to take precautions unnecessary elsewhere, like wearing masks that filter pollutants but also restrict breathing.

“It’s obviously much harder to breathe, so you’re not doing your best here, and you can’t take it off,” Abhay Sen, 30, told AFP. “Makes you think whether you want to do this again or not.” [more]

'My eyes are burning': Delhi holds half marathon despite pollution warning

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