January 8th, 2009

GEBRSELASSIE READY FOR STANDARD CHARTERED DUBAI MARATHON… AND WORLD RECORD NO. 27?

Dubai (UAE): Although world records have come with the same metronomic regularity he applies to his marathon running, Haile Gebrselassie won’t be drawn just yet on whether next week’s Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on January 16 will be world record number 27.

But the running legend says he is in better shape than when he won in Dubai last year in 2h:04m:53s, then the second fastest on record.

“Last year, I had a little injury two weeks before Dubai, but this year everything is OK, I feel fine,” he yesterday (Wednesday) by phone from his home in Addis Ababa. “And I won’t make the mistake of going too fast, like last year”.

Aiming for a first half in 62 minutes in 2008, the pacemakers seared through the 21.1k in 61.27. It probably made the difference between breaking his then world record of 2.04.26, set in Berlin 2007, by half a minute instead of ending up a half a minute outside it, as was the case.

Geb proved that when he went back to Berlin last September, ran the first half in 62.04, and came back in 61.55, to set his 26th world record and become the first marathoner under 2.04. If he breaks that record in Dubai, he will win a US$ 1,000,000 bonus in addition to the first place prize of US$250,000 – already the biggest in marathon running.

After Berlin, he said he thought he could do “2.03 something” in Dubai “but everything has to be perfect for another record – weather, pacemakers. If I don’t get injured, then maybe 2.02.59 is possible, but considering my shape and my age, 2.03.30, or 2.03.20.”

It is a tribute to his consistency that even at 35, with a workforce of hundreds in half-a-dozen businesses in Addis, Gebrselassie still concentrates on running.

“It’s my top priority, because without running I wouldn’t have anything else. I get up at 5.30am every day and go training. And it’s cold here in the morning now. At Entoto (hills outside Addis), it’s about plus one (degree centigrade). I go to the office at about 9.30am and work until four. Then I train again. I go to bed about 9.30pm, ten at the latest.”

So there you have it, the ultimate recipe for success. Not forgetting that you needed to have been born and nurtured at altitude, run thousands of kilometres a year for the last twenty years, and have a great finishing sprint.

Sponsored by Standard Chartered for the past five years and held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is supported by Dubai Holding, The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, PUMA, Arab Media Group (AMG), TNT and Fitness First with assistance provided by Dubai Sports Council, RTA, Dubai Municipality and Dubai Police.

IMAGE: Haile Gebrselassie – can the legend break his own world record at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on January 16?

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