Haile Gebrselassie sets World Record # 26: 2:03:59 for the Marathon! by Alfons Juck, Notes by Larry Eder

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Haile has cut the marathon world record, in less than one year, by 56 seconds! He is the first man under 2:04!

A few years ago, when Haile Gebrselassie told the sports world he was moving up to the marathon, the cognescenti of the sport said that a) he may have waited to long, b) he wonderful 10,000 meter stride would be destroyed by the pounding of the marathon and c) the marathon was a young man's game.

Well, as his sponsor's line goes, " Impossible is nothing" , and Haile Gebrselassie showed that his passion, his drive, and his athletic ability put him on a " planet far from normal men" (yes, I am quoting the old Superman series).

Haile had company until 36 kilometers, when he charged away from James Kwambai of Kenya, who set a personal best by nearly five minutes! Haile finished the final five kilometers in 14:29, all by himself, to become the first man under 2:04. In one year, Haile has cut the world record by 56 seconds!

More on this to come today and tomorrow!

Haile World Record 2:03:59

BERLIN (GER, Sep 28): Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie shattered his own marathon record in the real-Berlin Marathon on Sunday morning, running 2:03:59 to become the first man in history under 2:04 for the distance. It is Gebrselassie's 26th world record, and improves by almost half a minute the world record of 2:04:26 that he set in Berlin one year ago. It is exactly five years ago, in this same race that Gebrselassie's great rival, Paul Tergat of Kenya ran 2:04:55, becoming the first man under 2:05. Thus in two stages in successive years, Gebrselassie (35) has taken almost a minute off that record, and taken it into new territory.

"I'm so happy," said Gebrselassie immediately afterwards. "Everything was perfect, the weather (10-12C and sunny), the pacemakers. Two weeks ago, I had a little problem, I ran 20k 40 seconds faster than in my preparation last year. But I had some cramps, and missed a week's training. I started again a week ago, and had some doubts today, but in the end, everything was fine. This really is my lucky city".

James Kwambai of Kenya, who stayed with Gebrselassie until 36 kilometres was second in 2:05:36, taking close to five minutes off his best, and his colleague, Charles Kamathi was third in 2:07:48. The remaining sub 2:10 runner was Mariko Kipchumba in 2:09:03 PB. Best European was German Falk Cierpinski in PB of 2:13:30 as 9th.

Irina Mikitenko of Germany won the women's race in 2:19:19, improving her best by over four minutes, breaking the national record and becoming the first German woman under 2:20. Writes Pat Butcher. The winning time is also new world lead for 2008 and fourth best performer ever (and second best ever European). Second Askale Magarsa of Ethiopia in 2:21:31 and third Hellen Kiprop 2:25:01, for both personal bests. Fourth Rose Cheruiyot of Kenya in 2:26:25 with Russian Gulnara Vigovskaya fifth (2:30:03).

In total 40, 827 runners from 107 countries entered the race.

Used with permission of Alfons Juck

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