real,-Berlin 2009: Haile Gebrselassie Wins Fourth in row, 2:06.08,Atsede Habtamu Besuye wins womens, by Pat Butcher, comments by Larry Eder



Haile Gebrselassie winning real, -Berlin 2009, photo by

Haile Gebrselassie did set a world record today, his twenty-seventh, at the 30k distance with his 1:27:49, eleven seconds ahead of the previous world record. However, it was probably the next kilometers, in 2:46, which put him over the edge.
Haile had run by himself from 20k on, as Duncan Kibet ran off the back just after the twenty kilometer mark, and dropped out at 30k. Francis Kiprop passed Kibet at 23 k and finished one minute back of the little Emperor.

It was just Saturday, when a keen observer of the sport said, " Hey, look, Haile is 36 years old, how much longer can he run this fast?" . Well, Haile gave all indications today that he is not ready to retire, citing in the press conference this past Friday that he intends to win gold at London 2012!

Today was just too much for Haile, as his last twevel kilometers showed. But, for today, with the huge crowd on the real, -Berlin course, Haile Gebreselassie was the mayor of Berlin!

(Oh, thanks to the real geeks who kept me awake during the live broadcast on . We tweeted the race, for all two hours, ten minutes, as we will do at
Bank of America Chicago Marathon and ING New York City.)


Story by Pat Butcher,


Haile Gebrselassie, 30k Clock, real, -Berlin 2009, photo by

Haile Gebrselassie won the real,-Berlin Marathon for the fourth year in succession this morning. But having reached for the stars with a ferocious attempt to break his world record of 2.03.59, set in the German capital last year, the Ethiopian ended up with a handful of moondust, finishing in a jog of fatigue in 2.06.08. “I was very tired, I pushed too much,” he said immediately afterwards.

Francis Kiprop of Kenya was second in a personal best, 2.07.04, ditto Negari Terfa of Ethiopia, third in 2.07.40. Pre-race co-favourite Duncan Kibet of Kenya dropped back at halfway, and eventually out of the race altogether. But he has the consolation of remaining fastest marathoner of the year, with his 2.04.27 victory in Rotterdam in April.

“My preparation was perfect,” Gebre said later. “That’s why I was on world record pace until 32-33k. But after 33k, with the sun getting warmer, I switched into a different gear. I tried to push, but it didn’t work”.

It would be crass to call this failure, since such ambition is what pushes back frontiers, and forges legends and reputations. Gebrselassie, 36, lacks in none of those departments.

The temperature was not as hot as expected (16C, rising to 20C for the men’s finish), but the pace was. Haile had asked for a tempo of 61min 30sec at halfway, and was clocked through at 61.48, still some 16 seconds faster than his pace during last year’s world record.

With Kibet already off the back of the pack, the remaining pacemakers – all Kenyan, incidentally, which gives you some idea of how relaxed is this East African rivalry – accelerated to deliver Geb to 30k in 1.27.49, just four seconds slower than he had hoped, but now 36 seconds ahead of last year’s record.

The remaining pacemaker, Sammy Kosgei upped the allure even more in the final kilometre before he dropped out, the 32nd was run in 2.46, thus 39 seconds ahead of world record schedule. But that may have been the final straw, because having maintained a relentless sub-three minutes per kilometre pace (average 2.56 was necessary for a new record), Geb dropped off to successive kilometres well outside three minutes.

And that was that. He slowed and tired visibly, and although finishing well clear of closest pursuer, Kiprop, his time was only his own sixth best, and the 26th fastest in history. And, incidentally three seconds slower than the 2.06.05 world record of Ronaldo da Costa of Brazil in Berlin 1998, a record which prompted a spate of fast times, after a hiatus of ten years of no men’s marathon records.

There was the consolation of a 30k world record for Haile, his 1.27.49 (the pacemakers duly dropped back a little in order not to spoil the party) being 11sec faster than the 1.28.00 achieved by the Japanese Takayuki Matsumiya in a rarely run 30k race in February 2005. Yet to be ratified, it will be Gebrselassie’s 27th world best or record. But it, patently was not the one he sought.

“If you look at the 30k world record, it wasn’t too bad,” he opined of his run “What I’ve understood from today is that the temperature has to be under 16-17 degrees (celsius), to break the marathon world record (last year was between 12-16C). People say the marathon begins after 30, 35k, and the weather is important. Perhaps I should have calculated that from the beginning. I’ve learned a lot today. If I become a coach for marathon runners, I’ll be a good coach”.

Kiprop in second place improved his personal best by one minute and 24 seconds, from his 2.08.30 fourth place in Seoul last year, and Terfa in third was 1.17 faster than the 2.09.01 that he clocked for second place in Xiamen, China in January this year.

Duncan Kibet dropped out shortly after the 30k mark. Luke Kibet (no relation), the 2007 world champion made a late appearance as a pacemaker, but dropped out at 15k with a back injury.


Atsede Habtamu Besuye, women's winner, 2009, real, -Berlin, photo by

The women’s podium looked destined to be populated by Ethiopians, but after a group of four dominated the early stages of the race, only Atsede Habtamu Besuye lasted the course in the lead, winning in 2.24.47, a half minute inside her personal best set in finishing second in Dubai this year. Silvia Skvortsova of Russia came through strongly to finish second in 2.26.24, a 33sec improvement on her best, a seventh place in London 2002. Debutante, Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia was third in 2.26.38.


Atsede Habtamu Besuye wins real,-Berlin 2009, photo by

1. Haile Gebrselassie ETH 2:06:08
2. Francis Kiprop KEN 2:07:04
3. Negari Terfa ETH 2:07:41
4. Dereje Debele Tulu ETH 2:09:41
5. Alfred Kering KEN 2:09:52
6. Girma Assefa ETH 2:09:58
7. Eshetu Wondimu ETH 2:12:28
8. Atsushi Fujita JPN 2:12:54

1. Atsede Besuye ETH 2:24:47
2. Silvia Skvortsova RUS 2:26:24
3. Mamitu Daska ETH 2:26:38
4. Rosaria Console ITA 2:26:45
5. Genet Getaneh ETH 2:27:09
6. Leah Malot KEN 2:29:17

To see highlights of the marathon, please check on

Special thanks to Victah Sailer and his team at


Special thanks to Pat Butcher of

For more on our sport, please check the RN portal at

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