Geb sets M35 world record in 10,000 at Hengelo meet

Don’t look now, but Haile Gebrselassie is a masters runner! He turned 35 in mid-April. Yesterday at an IAAF meet in Hengelo, Holland, the greatest distance runner in history — seeking a spot on Ethiopia’s Olympic team — took second to countryman Sileshi Sihine. Geb’s 26:51.20 bettered the listed M35 world-age group record by 26 seconds. World Masters Athletics says the record is 27:17.48 by Carlos Lopes of Portugal, who was 37 when he ran it in 1984. On the WMA Age-Graded Tables, Geb’s time at Hengelo corresponds to an Open (ages 20-30) equivalent of 26:17.04. Welcome to masters, Geb!

Here’s how the IAAF reported Geb’s latest feat:

Haile one step closer to fourth Olympic appearance
14 years after setting his first World record on the Hengelo track, Gebrselassie returned to the venue in the role of sentimental favourite in the 10,000m, but in reality as an underdog in his quest to achieve a qualifying performance in the event for Beijing.
Under the assumption that reigning Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele has already secured on team berth, “Mr. Hengelo” needed to finish at least second among the formidable group of Ethiopians in the field in order to be considered for the Beijing squad, and he fulfilled his goal in quite impressive fashion, giving selectors plenty to think about.
Running near the front throughout, Gebrselassie followed Olympic silver medallist and compatriot Sileshi Sihine for much of the proceedings, and in the latter stages, when only the pair, along with Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge and Leonard Patrick Komon remained in contention, he even took his turn with the lead.
The younger Sileshi’s kick didn’t disappoint as he cruised to a 26:50.53 victory, but Gebrselassie wasn’t far behind, gliding to a runner-up finish in 26:51.20. They were the two quickest performances of the year and for Gebrselassie, a major step towards Beijing.
“Running under 27 minutes was my goal,” said Gebrselassie, now 35, who won back-to-back Olympic titles in the event in 1996 and 2000 before finishing fifth in 2004. “Now we have to wait and see the results from a few other 10,000m races over the next few weeks. And then the federation will decide.”
Kipchoge (26:54.32) and Komon (26:57.08) both also dipped under 27 minutes while Gebre Gebremariam, the recently-minted African champion, struggled in the waning stages and finished a distant seventh in 27:20.65.

The Associated Press added a fascinating hint that Geb could have gone faster!

Gebrselassie, who now runs mostly marathons, has refused to run the 26.3-mile race at the Beijing Olympics because the smog and heat might bother his asthma.
The 35-year-old runner didn’t find the finishing kick Saturday to put distance on his opponents. Still, he beat his target by almost 9 seconds and gave a thumbs-up and smile after the race.
“I didn’t expect the pacemakers to be this slow,” Gebrselassie said.
Ethiopia is expected to pick its team based on time. The squad is so deep, others could still keep Gebrselassie out of the top three.
“Without me, they can (still) do the best,” Gebrselassie said.

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May 26, 2008

One Response

  1. mellow johnny - May 26, 2008

    No wonder Geb decided not to run the marathon in Beijing.
    Not only is the pollution there rough for endurance athletes, the marathon there is going to be an extra tenth of a mile!

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