GEBRSELASSIE TO CHASE SIXTH BUPA GREAT MANCHESTER RUN TITLE
The ageless Haile Gebrselassie, the world’s greatest ever distance runner, who insists retirement is a career option he no longer thinks about, will chase a fifth successive Bupa Great Manchester Run and sixth in total title on May 26.
The Ethiopian superstar, who will celebrate his 40th birthday next month, admits his age is catching up on him, but is adamant that he has the enthusiasm and ability to continue at the highest level in what has been an unmatchable career.
In the last two decades the African superstar has been crowned two-time Olympic 10,000m champion and winner of the World Championships title at that distance on four occasions.
Gebrselassie, with 27 global records under his belt, has also broken the World Marathon record on three occasions, although after recent disappointing performances is not considering one in the immediate future.
The “Emperor”, as he is nicknamed for being the undisputed All-Time Number One performer, said: “I feel very honoured and flattered. There have been many great athletes in history and it makes me proud that people talk about me like that.
“I love running, it is part of my life and part of my daily routine. As long as I enjoy it so much I will keep running and I don’t know how and when this will finish. And how could I resist the opportunity to return to Manchester?”
Gebrselassie scored his first victory at the Bupa Great Manchester Run in 2005 and since returning has, on a further four consecutive outings, blown away the challenges of his younger and very talented international and British opponents.
In 2012 he posted a then world leading mark for the year of 27:39, trouncing an elite field. He added: “I like to run a 10km in May, it fits well in my schedule. Manchester is always a good race, it is well organised by Nova and my friend Brendan Foster. I always feel very welcome.
“Yes I was a little bit surprised,” he said of the dominant performance last year, in a line up including Patrick Makau, who succeeded him as World marathon record holder, and Stephen Kiprotich, who later in the summer went on to capture the Olympic Marathon gold medal.
“I knew I was in good shape,” said Gebrselassie, who will have races in Vienna over the half marathon distance and the Bern 10 miler before defending his Manchester title. “As I am not getting younger, it is always a challenge to run a fast 10km.”
Entries for the Bupa Great Manchester Run are open at www.greatrun.org/manchester. On the following day, Bank Holiday Monday, the Bupa Mini and Junior Great Manchester Runs will be staged at the Etihad Campus.