Haile in -real,Berlin, September 2009, photo by PhotoRun.net.
Last weekend, driving to a restaurant in Houston, our driver, Barek, asked me if Haile Gebrselassie was the best distance runner in the world, EVER? It was quite funny. I had mentioned Usain Bolt, then, when I mentioned Haile, the young man, raised in Ethiopia, knew all about the Emperor. We agreed on his greatest race-the 2000 Olympic Sydney 10,000 meter race, where the difference between Gebrselassie and Tergat was smaller than the difference between the gold and the silver medalists in the 100 meters!
I told Barek that, in my mind, my two favorite interviews have been the late Emil Zatopek and Haile. The man has a spirit that is charming, positive and unique. Is Haile Gebrselassie the greatest distance runner in the world? Well, Kenenise Bekele now has many of his records, but Haile, like Usain Bolt, brought fun back into the sport. For Haile, whether he is first or sixth, he shows class, elegance and athleticism.
And now, you get to see him run in New York once again!
Long Distance Legend Haile Gebrselassie Returns to the NYC Half-Marathon
2007 NYC Half-Marathon champion to make rare United States appearance
New York, January 20, 2010â€”Ethiopiaâ€™s long distance legend and marathon world record-holder Haile Gebrselassie will return to the bright lights of New York to compete in the first spring running of the NYC Half-Marathon on Sunday, March 21, it was announced today by New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg.
â€œHaile is a superstar, a legendary champion, and an ambassador for the sport, and we continue to be amazed by him,â€ Wittenberg said. â€œTo have him back for the second time for the NYC Half-Marathon is a great thrill and a win for this quickly growing event.â€
Widely considered the greatest distance runner of all time, Gebrselassie, 36, will be in action this Friday, January 22, when he defends his crown at the Dubai Marathon, where he hopes to lower his marathon world record time of 2:03:59, set in 2008 at the real-, Berlin Marathon.
The last time he competed in the United States, Gebrselassie made his debut in the 2007 NYC Half-Marathon, completing the course in an event record time of 59 minutes, 24 seconds.
â€œIâ€™m very excited about going back to New York,â€ Gebrselassie said. â€œI got such a warm welcome when I ran the NYC Half-Marathon in 2007. Iâ€™m sure it will be a wonderful event again and Iâ€™m looking forward to it.â€
He has won nine of out of 10 career 13.1-mile races, including a world record 58 minutes, 55 seconds in 2006 in Tempe, AZ. (The record was later broken by Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya.) The 1996 and 2000 Olympic 10,000-meter gold medalist has won 122 races, only four of which (Atlanta, Boston, Tempe, and New York) have been in the United States. He has now set 25 world records in his illustrious career with a total of 15 senior medals at the Olympic Games (2), World Track & Field Championships (7), World Indoor Championships (4), World Half-Marathon Championships (1), and World Cross Country Championships (1).
Gebrselassie has focused on road racing and the marathon since the 2004 Olympic Games, and he captured his first title in a World Marathon Majors race in Berlin in 2006. In addition to four straight wins in Berlin, he has also claimed marathon victories in Amsterdam (2005), Fukuoka, Japan (2006), and Dubai (2008, 2009).
Previously announced, the NYC Half-Marathon will offer the largest half-marathon prize purse in the United States: $100,000. The menâ€™s and womenâ€™s champions will each earn $20,000, the largest first-prize checks for a non-marathon race in the country.
The NYC Half-Marathon continues to attract leading professional athletes and recreational runners from around the world. In 2009, more than 19,000 people applied to run the race, and more than 10,000 finished.
On a course designed to celebrate New York City, the NYC Half-Marathon will take runners on a loop through Central Park, down Seventh Avenue through Times Square, across 42nd Street, and along the expansive West Side Highway to Battery Park in the heart of the cityâ€™s financial district, finishing with a view of the Statue of Liberty.
New York Road Runners
New York Road Runners, founded in 1958, is dedicated to promoting the sport of distance running, enhancing health and fitness for all, and responding to community needs. Our road races and other fitness programs draw upwards of 300,000 runners annually, and together with our magazine and website support and promote professional and recreational running. A staff of more than 100, assisted by thousands of volunteers, stages the ING New York City Marathon, as well as a road race nearly every weekend plus many track and cross country events. NYRRâ€™s home base in New York, and its lifelong identification with Central Park, have given many of its events iconic status, attracting the worldâ€™s top professional runners. Our youth programs provide running to nearly 100,000 schoolchildren in New York City, around the country, and in South Africa who would otherwise have few or no fitness opportunities. For more information, visit www.nyrr.org.
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