22nd Berliner Wasserbetriebe 5 x 5 km TEAM-Relay from 7 until 9 June 2023

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Will Gebrselassie go for Berlin?

“London, Berlin, Rotterdam, Chicago and Amsterdam have the best courses,”


Gebrselassie in Amsterdam
© Victah Sailor

Will Gebrselassie go for Berlin?

Haile Gebrselassie's son will not be nicknamed Amsterdam. Two weeks ago the Ethiopian runner has become a father for the fourth time. Nathan is Gebrselassie's first son. “My wife already named him Nathan, but should I run world record in Amsterdam, then he would be nicknamed Amsterdam,” Haile Gebrselassie had said before the race. But it didn’t come to it. Haile Gebrselassie won the Amsterdam marathon, indeed, but he missed his big goal.

The 32 year old wanted to break the world record, set by his big rival Paul Tergat (Kenya). After 2:06:20 hours Gebrselassie reached the finish line in Amsterdam. But he missed the record by 85 seconds, so that is almost half a kilometre.

Two years ago Paul Tergat (KEN) had run 2:04:55 hours at the legendary 30. real,- BERLIN-MARATHON 2003, second was Sammy Korir (KEN) in 2:04:56 and third Titus Munji (KEN) in 2:06:15.

First half in 62:03

”I know what it means to reach this goal. It is very hard. But Haile can do it,” Paul Tergat had said before the Amsterdam-Marathons. While Paul Tergat will run for a victory in New York on a hard course next month, Haile Gebrselassie was running in Amsterdam for the world record. “I am happy about this victory but I am also a little bit annoyed about my failure to break the world record,” said Haile Gebrselassie, who was running a fast first half (62:03 minutes) but slowed down too much in the second half. “It was windy in the second half. And when one is running, you feel like in a storm. I think the wind had cost me two minutes.”

18 long distance world records in his career

Haile Gebrselassie set 18 long distance world records in his career. Just some weeks ago, he improved the 10 mile world record, clocking 44:24 minutes in Tilburg. But it was not enough for a record in Amsterdam. “I didn’t underestimate the marathon. I think a 10,000 m race is due to its tactical changes even more complicated. When it is not a championship, I just need to run my own pace in the marathon,” explained Haile Gebrselassie, who has run just two marathons, not counting one he ran as a junior. Three years ago he finished third in London clocking 2:06:35 hours. At that time he just drank water, and at the end he ran out of energy. This time he had his own proper drinks. The training had been very good in advance. On Friday Haile Gebrselassie had arrived from Addis Abeba. And also the Achilles tendon and the calf, which was the problem in spring when he had to pull out of the London Marathon, were fine. Nevertheless he didn’t break the world record.

”I know that I am able to break the world record"

”I know that I am able to break the world record, but I don’t know when this will happen,” said Haile Gebrselassie, who seemed to be impatient: “I am not tired after this Amsterdam Marathon. Maybe I could already run a marathon in two months.” But this will not happen, as his agent Jos Hermens will slow him down. “Haile wants to break the world record as soon as possible. To prepare six month for a marathon, is difficult for him,” explained Jos Hermens. But the Dutch surely knows that more than two marathons in a year can be dangerous for elite runners. He will try to find some shorter distance races for preparation.

Additionally there are not many marathon races where the course is flat enough to hunt the world record. “London, Berlin, Rotterdam, Chicago and Amsterdam have the best courses,” said Jos Hermens. Gebrselassie's next Marathon is already set, because of his three year contract with the London Marathon. Always boosting a high class field, the London Marathon often produces tactical races and no record chases. So Haile Gebrselassie might have to wait another year before the next chance to break the world record appears.

“In fall there would be a possibility in Amsterdam or Berlin for Haile,” said Jos Hermens. Haile Gebrselassie has to be patient and eventually perhaps has to go where the current world record was run: in Berlin.


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