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Dubai (UAE): With just days remaining until registration closes, the world’s greatest distance runner has taken time out from preparing for the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon to send a message to his fans – “get your running shoes on and join me at the start.”
Double Olympic champion and marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie is putting himself through a grueling training schedule as he targets a new marathon world best at the Dubai race on January 22. But with his thoughts on his friends and supporters in the UAE, the running legend has urged even part time joggers to line up with the best in the world at the $2 million event.
“The world is facing many problems due to stress, lifestyle changes, climate change and an economic slump but I firmly believe that running will help you forget such problems,” said ‘Geb’ from his training base in Addis Ababa.
“I could have been a victim but I chose to run and today I am fit and healthy. After 30 minutes running I feel so much better no matter what is getting me down. Do I ever think “I really don’t want to do this today?” No, never.”
With a world record of 2h:3m:59s to his name, Gebrselassie is the world’s premier athlete over the classic 42.2km distance and is the red-hot favourite to make it three wins from three starts in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon. However, with the associated 10km and 3km Fun Run offering less punishing distances for the budding amateur, the Ethiopian superstar believes there is the opportunity for everyone to enjoy the occasion on January 22.
“Whether it’s running or jogging, please get out there and run. I’ll be in the marathon but I love sharing the road with everyone no matter what distance they are running.
“It doesn’t matter how far you run– if more people come out as examples to others, then these leaders will encourage more and more runners to take part in the future.”
Despite his status as one of the greatest sporting icons of all time – he was asked to make the FIFA World Cup draw in South Africa alongside David Beckham and Oscar winner Charlize Theron – Gebrselassie remains a man of the people and will often mingle and shake hands with serious runners and joggers alike at the start of every major race.
For the next few weeks, however, his focus is on the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon and the chance to further reduce his remarkable world record time – and collect the $1 million world record bonus offered by Dubai Holding.
“For three months, I started slowly with a number of long runs followed by a month of speed training,” he said. “Before Dubai I will do a number of speed tests, which are very important to gauge how well I am running and what I still need to do to be absolutely ready for a world record attempt. I do 30-35km maximum road training per day split into morning and afternoon runs. I also work in the gym – treadmill, cycling, exercising – for around three hours once a week. By the time I start in Dubai, I’ll weigh 58kg… by the time I finish, I’ll be 54kg.”
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, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon will accept registrations up to the end of December either at any Dubai branch of Fitness first or online at www.dubaimarathon.org.
The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is supported by Dubai Holding, Dubai Sports Council, The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, ARN and DMI, TNT, Fitness First, Men’s Fitness, Vittel Water, RTA, Dubai Municipality and the Dubai Emergency Services.