Geb and Wami Move On, by Pat Butcher


Haile Gebrselasssie
photo by Victah Sailor,

It is October 1, 2007. Huge day in athletics yesterday as Haile Gebreselassie broke the world record, running 2:04.26 and Geta Wami won the women's race at Berlin, taking the lead in the Five Major Marathons bi annual contest. In the following piece by Pat Butcher, we see where both Geb and Wami are headed.


Twenty four world records, and counting. The Haile Gebrselassie road show moves on from the latest addition to that list, a world record 2.04.26 in the real,_Berlin Marathon on Sunday. His next dates with destiny? The Dubai Marathon on January 18, 2008, then the Olympic marathon in Beijing in August. But hasn´t someone (Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru) recently ´stolen´ the half-marathon world record from him? “I have plans for that, but this will be a secret,” said Gebrselassie, who can be as entertaining in press conferences as he can be in breaking world records. “I´m discussing it with my manager. It´s one of my aims (to retrieve the record)”.
Ever since 2hr 10min was broken for the marathon some four decades ago, talk has been of the two-hour marathon. “Sure,” said Geb without hesitation, “it will be done, maybe in 20 years, maybe forty years, nobody knows. The more technology develops, the more athletes will run faster”. For himself, he is still stuck on the 2.03 prediction he first made three months ago, then repeated prior to this race. “I can run 2.03. I have that feeling. It is possible to run 2.03 here in Berlin, It will happen one day”.
After revealing that he celebrated his new record with a half-pint of beer, “mixed with apple juice, to make it sweeter. I didn´t finish it,” he was asked if he could design the Berlin course to be even faster. “If I designed it, I´d make it harder,” he joked. “No, everything was perfect here. The course is fast, the weather was perfect, the rain the day before made everything fresh. And the pacemakers were good. You don´t often get all these things together”. He probably won´t run the Berlin Marathon again, but he does want to run a marathon in Berlin again. “I want to run the world championships marathon, so I want to come back here in 2009”.
Gete Wami’s next date with destiny is less than five weeks’ away. Having also successfully defended her title here, she will run New York on November 2. It’s unusual, to say the least, such a short gap for such an elite athlete. But she is tempted by the half million dollars overall prize on offer for winning the World Marathon Majors’ jackpot. The ‘Majors’ is a series of five marathons – Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York – who have combined to offer a million dollars, shared by the man and woman who can amass the most points throughout two seasons. Wami took the lead after Sunday’s race, but she must prevent two-time New York winner, Jelena Prokupcuka of Latvia taking a third Big-Apple title, in order to win the pot herself. For anyone with any doubts that she might not be recovered, she said, “I ran for a hour this morning, and felt fine. I could run another marathon today”!

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