Thursday, October 20, 2005


I just got this article in an email from my college coach. He writes for Track & Field News and I thought I'd share it. Sorry if the paragraphs don't make sense as formatting may have gotten screwed up while copying and pasting.


by Sean Hartnett

Haile Gebrsalassie is now a marathoner. Yes, the Ethiopian gold medal magnet faltered in the final 10K in his Amsterdam assault on Paul Tergat’s WR, but his brazen 62:03 opening half and his shear magical presence is sure to have a lasting impact on the 42K event.

World Records are often pursued in Chicago, London and Berlin, with a combination of fast courses, bold pacing, and deep competitive fields. Amsterdam was less complicated, it was just Haile and the clock.The record chase started well as Haile, a handful of pacers and Kenyan Daniel Yego simply cruised the opening half. They were not hammering, the pace was covered comfortably, even by Yengo who ran a 2:08:20 debut in Rome this spring.

“The pacing was perfect, for me it is not so fast.”Haile recalls. “The first part was a country run, very nice I could even smell the cows. But the second part when we got back to the city was difficult because the wind increased and was very complicated.”Yego held pace until just before 30K, then Haile pushed on alone, but his race began unraveling as he notes “there were problems with the wind, and after 35K, problems with my breathing system. I had very hard stitches in my chest, and the air couldn’t come in.”

Haile ran bigheartedly over the final kilometers to finish a disappointed 2:06:20, the year’s fastest time. “My expectation was to break the record. I felt like I ran 2:04 today,” Haile lamented, “but the wind stole two minutes from my time.”

Despite falling short of the record, Haile relishes his new career noting “the marathon is good for me,” - and clearly Haile is good for what has become the sports most promising and lucrative event.

Three years after his 2:06:35 third place finish in the London Marathon, Haile has found that marathon training suits his fragile legs and his growing family life well and is anxious to get on with his marathon career.“The training is not so hard on my body,” Haile offers. “I can train on the forest trails in the mountains, and I have never had to go to the track.”Gebrsallassie who just added a son Nathan to his family also notes, “I can also spend more time with my family, my business, and the charity concerns.”Haile has a great support crew with his long-time manager Jos Hermans and his assistant Michel Boeting, and coaching advisor Theo Joosten. Haile continues get advice from Ethiopian national coach Dr. Kostre but now works more independently noting “the Ethiopian system is changing because there are now so many athletes. “We no longer train at the national center, I have just have a small group that works with me.”

Like his long-time rival Tergat, Haile recognizes that there is a learning process in the marathon and he notes, “I think you can learn things from a mistake, and from experience. I have yet to be perfect in a marathon. I have to learn a lot.” Haile adds, “remember that when I was in London one of my big problems was with the drink, Yesterday it was perfect.

Richard Nerurkar accompanies me in training on a bike to provide fluids, so now we are already perfect on that issue, but there are one, two or three things that I am still thinking about.”

Yet, unlike Tergat, Haile has adopted Paula Radcliffe’s ballistic approach to the marathon and every race he runs may well be a WR attempt. “Sure, why not? Gebrselassie responds with a serious smile.“This is part of my plan, I am confident I can make the time, but I don’t know when.”

Despite being rebuffed in his record attempt, Haile admitted “after today I think that the marathon is the easiest one when I compare to 10,000. In the marathon you don’t need to sprint and run fast. You just have to keep up the pace and that is enough. You don’t need a lot of tactics you are just competing against time, looking at the clock.”

Haile adds “I am concentrating on the long runs, more time, staying longer. I think that the third or fourth marathon will be OK. This time I only focus on the time, but in the future I will handle the finish better.” Haile concludes “it didn’t work here in Amsterdam, but I think someday it will happen that I just do the time. We’ll see.”


Thomas Sorensen recently met Geb too and he writes about it here.

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