Gebrselassie’s best record chance? Abugida wishes the best of luck to all Ethiopians Athletes in Berlin (Sunday 27/06)
|By JÃ¶rg Wenig, IAAF|September 21, 2006
The men’s and the women’s races could see great duels when it comes to the decisive part of Germany’s most prestigious road running event. Haile Gebrselassie will meet Sammy Korir, while Gete Wami and Salina Kosgei are the chief adversaries in the women’s race. So it could be a tough battle between Kenya and Ethiopia in each of the two races. For the first time athletes will collect points for the World Marathon Majors Series (WMM) in Berlin on Sunday.
After spring races in Boston and London the series commences in the German capital with Chicago and New York to follow. But the most discussed topic before the race with 39,636 runners from 105 nations is about Haile Gebrselassie: Will the 33 year-old Ethiopian be able to break the World record, which was set by Paul Tergat (Kenya) here in Berlin three years ago with 2:04:55 hours?
Salina Kosgei and Gete Wami in Berlin
Finally there is the weather, which is likely to be hot for marathon standards. Temperatures are supposed to be climb to around 20Â° Celsius during the race, which is started at 9 am. And they will be well over 20Â° in early afternoon.
MEN ““ not just about records!
The weather will be great for more than a million spectators expected to line the course with a start and finish almost next to the Brandenburg Gate. But it could get too warm for elite athletes chasing record times on the fast Berlin course. At least Gebrselassie can be quite sure that there will be no drop of rain on Sunday. It was the rain that had stopped him in the Flora London Marathon in April and led to what he later described as “the worst performance in my international career”?.
Gebrselassie finished ninth in London with 2:09:05. He later explained: “I was in a very good shape before London, but it simply wasn’t my day. When I saw that it was raining I somehow knew that it wouldn’t work out well for me. On slippery streets I have problems with my balance because of my running style.”?
So far Gebrselassie’s best time in the marathon stands at 2:06:20 with which he had won the Amsterdam Marathon a year ago. That was the best time of the year in 2005 and his only win at the classic distance in three attempts. Disregarding his marathon race in Addis Ababa when he was a 15 year-old and clocked roughly 2:48, he ran his debut in London in 2002. Finishing third he ran 2:06:35 which was the fastest debut ever at that time.
After a longer break due to injuries and because of concentrating on the track one last time at the Athens Olympics he returned to the marathon in Amsterdam. Clocking a super fast first half of 62:03 minutes he ran into problems during the second half. With no pacemakers left after 25k and a headwind Gebrselassie lost vital time in his chase for the World record. This year he came back strongly, breaking the half marathon World record in Tempe (USA) with 58:55 minutes. But then in London he again had problems in the final part of the race.
Before his fourth proper marathon in Berlin on Sunday, Gebrselassie has given up talking about the World record. “I want to win the race and I want to run fast as well ““ both is important. I will definitely run as fast as I can. But I don’t want to talk much before the race but perform well instead. Sure, I know that the course in Berlin is fast and I hope it will be a special race”?, Gebrselassie said. So far he has broken over 20 World records or World bests ““ from 2000m indoors to the half marathon. The marathon remains his ultimate goal.
By many the Berlin-Marathon is seen as probably Haile’s best chance ever to break the World marathon record. If it does not get too warm the flat course paired with strong pace makers makes a perfect set up. Comparing his form to before London Gebrselassie said: “I was fit in London and now I will be in very good shape again. Additionally, I have now an even better feeling for the distance after three marathon races.”?
Boiling bunny halts Geb’s 10k preparations
Preparations were still somewhat different for Gebrselassie. He had no races at all between London and Berlin. A 10km race in Sicily was scheduled for 19th August but Gebrselassie explains what happened:
“There was a problem with the airplane in Addis Ababa. Somehow a rabbit blundered into one engine. After the take-off it started to smell weird. We thought that they were preparing the food ““ but it was rabbit.”?
“After flying already 1:40 hours the captain decided to fly back and prepared an emergency landing. Due to that I missed my connection flight and wasn’t able to travel to Italy.”?
But he thinks that this will have no impact on his Berlin performance.
“It would have been nice to run the 10k, but 10ks are not a real marathon test anyway. In so far it is not a problem. Since the race in London I was just preparing for the race in Berlin. I will come to Berlin, run and see what happens ““ I don’t have any worries.”?
Don’t forget Korir!
Berlin has often been the place for runners to achieve their marathon breakthrough. That might well happen on Sunday again. But there is one in the field who will be tough to beat for Haile: Kenya’s Sammy Korir had significantly contributed to Paul Tergat’s World record and had nearly even beaten Tergat in the final sprint three years ago. Korir is still the second fastest runner ever with his time of 2:04:56.
Additionally he is the fastest this year in the world (2:06:38 in Rotterdam). Korir is said to be in good form. “This will be a great competition, and that is great for the spectators,”? Gebrselassie predicts. “It will be less good for me but I hope that he is well prepared as I will be, too.”?
WOMEN ““ Wami vs Kosgei
While it remains to be seen if Kenya’s Berlin win streak (seven wins in a row) in the men’s race will come to an end on Sunday, with the defending champion and Olympic Champion Mizuki Noguchi (Japan) having to pull out of the race recently because of injury, it looks most unlikely that the Japanese winning streak in the women”˜s race will continue.
“Over the past years we have always been lucky with our starts – unfortunately, not this time. Nonetheless, I still believe that we will have a very good women’s race,”? said race director Mark Milde said.
The new favourites for a now open race are the Ethiopian Gete Wami (personal best: 2:22:19) and the Kenyan Salina Kosgei (2:24:32). Both have clocked their personal bests in their first races in Amsterdam (Wami/2002) and Paris (Kosgei/2004) and are eager to improve.
“I have trained well. While I had injury problems in the last few years after giving birth in 2003 I am now fully fit again. And I have trained for a big goal: A sub 2:20 time,”? said Gete Wami, who has won three medals in Olympic track races. “I will try to break this barrier but it will depend on how I feel on the day and how the weather will be.”?
While the Ethiopian thinks that “Haile can break the World record in Berlin”? she will as well meet a strong Kenyan runner: Salina Kosgei. She may join Wami’s pace on Sunday. “I can not yet say if I will follow a sub 2:20 pace. That will depend on how I feel on Sunday and on the weather. But I want to beat Gete,”? confirmed the Kenyan.
“I hope that we will see two great races. And as being part of the World Marathon Majors it will also be about scoring points. I expect interest in this to rise even more next year when the jackpot of one million dollar will be awarded for the first time”?, said Milde.
JÃ¶rg Wenig for the IAAF