Haile to Run Dubai, Again, by Pat Butcher



Haile Gebrselassie is aiming for Dubai and the WR, photo by PhotoRun.net.

Here is Pat Butcher's view of Haile G running the Dubai marathon...


by Pat Butcher

If at first you don’t succeed….. you go back to Dubai for another crack at the marathon world record. At least, you do if your name is Haile Gebrselassie.

Although he won both previous Dubai races easily, an overenthusiastic first half ruined his first record attempt, in 2008; and turning into the teeth of a rainstorm at 30k washed out 2009. So Haile Geb goes back for a third attempt at a world record in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on January 22, 2010.

The most famous man in Ethiopia – and probably the busiest as well – took time out in Addis Ababa last week to sign another contract with Dubai co-organisers, Peter Connerton and Ahmad Al Kamali.

“I think it’s still possible for me to break the world record there,” said Gebrselassie, “but everything has to be right, and I’m not going to spoil my chances by predicting it. I still can’t believe I didn’t break the world record in 2008. Everything was perfect except the pace for the first half of the race, which was too fast. Last year the rain was bad and I wasn’t feeling 100%, so to win and prove I could run well in the wet weather was a bonus for me”.

When the race was upgraded two years ago, with an overall prize pot of two million dollars, marathon record holder Gebrselassie was the obvious target for the organisers. “There are few, if any, greater names in athletics history than Haile Gebrselassie,” said race director Connerton. “So once again we are proud and delighted that he has chosen to make his next marathon appearance in Dubai in three months time”.

“It’s only a short flight from Addis (to Dubai),” said Haile,”the weather is usually beautiful, the course itself is very, very good, and the athletes are treated really well. I’m already training hard, and looking forward to running again in Dubai.

“For the three months leading up to Dubai, I start slowly with a number of long runs. I will then do a month of speed training and by December everything has to be ready. I will do a number of speed “tests,” these 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.

Now 36, Haile has set 26 world records or world bests in a career stretching back to the early 1990s. He had a hesitant start to his marathon career when he launched it in 2002, with a third place in London behind the world record of Khalid Khannouchi. Three years later, fast wins in Amsterdam, Berlin and Fukuoka were offset by two more poor runs in London, ninth (“the worst race of my career”) and a failure to finish, which was later discovered to be due to pollen allergies.

All that was put behind him later that year, 2007, when he returned to Berlin and ran a world record 2.04.26. He improved that the following year, again in Berlin, with the current world record of 2.03.59, adding the first sub-2.04 to an already illustrious barrier breaking career.

In both previous Dubai races, he has been on course for similar sub-2.04 times, only to be thwarted by his own presumption in 2008, and a thunderstorm earlier his year. Undaunted he is preparing for another tilt at a third marathon world record in his third Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.

“I will do 30-35km maximum road training per day split into morning and afternoon runs. I will also work in the gym – treadmill, cycling, exercising – for around three hours minimum once a week. By the time I start the Dubai Marathon I will weigh 58kg… by the time I finish, I will weigh 54kg.

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