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– Running legend confirmed for Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon –
Dubai (UAE): Fresh from breaking his own world marathon record and becoming the first man to run under 2h:04m, Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie has confirmed his next major appearance will be in the $2 million Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on January 16, 2009.
The news once again underlines the global standing of Dubai as host to the world’s richest running event, held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and staged under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council. As well as a prize-fund of $1 million, the race also offers a world record bonus payout of an additional $1 million, courtesy of Dubai Holding.
“We have been in discussions with Haile and his management ever since he performed so brilliantly in Dubai earlier this year,” said event director Peter Connerton. “Our team flew to Germany last week to finalise the details but we didn’t want to release the news out of respect for the Berlin Marathon. Now he has smashed the world record again, we look forward to Haile coming back to Dubai in 2009.”
In the German capital, Gebrselassie further cemented his incredible running legacy with a world record time of 2h:03m:59s – the 26th world record of his astonishing career and his third win in the Berlin Marathon.
The last three times ‘Geb’ has run the 42.195km event – Berlin in 2007 and 2008 and in Dubai earlier this year – he has set the three fastest times in history. Beating the record yet again in Dubai is the 35 year-old’s next marathon target following a 15km race in Melbourne in November.
“Considering he was nursing a calf injury prior to running in Berlin, setting another world record is an amazing achievement by Haile,” said Ahmed Al Kamali, Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon General Co-ordinator, President of the UAE Athletics Federation and Al Ahli Club Board Member.
“His appearance in Dubai in January this year took the standing of the Dubai Marathon to a new level. Although he narrowly missed out on the world record, he was warmly welcomed and received a great ovation from his thousands of supporters. I’m sure we’ll see more of the same in three months time and we’ll do all we can to give him every chance of breaking the world record in Dubai.”
The man himself believes he can go even faster. During training for Berlin, he was running quicker than at any time in his marathon career.
“After the race (Berlin), I didn’t feel so tired,” he said. “It feels great to be the first man under 2.04 in the marathon. Myself, I can do 2.03 something – if I don’t get injured, maybe 2.02.59, but considering my shape and my age, 2.03.30, or 2.03.20.”
IMAGE: Haile Gebrselassie will be aiming to lower his world record time even further in the $2 million Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in January, 2009