Haile Gebrselassie en route to his win at the 2006 Granollers Half-Marathon (© Pere Cornellas)
Alphen aan den Rijn, The NetherlandsHaile Gebrselassie clocked 1:11:37 for 25 kilometres today. The Ethiopian wonder man in the process bettered the World record* of Kenyan Paul Kosgei who ran 1:12:45 on 9 May 2004 in Berlin, Germany, by 1:08 minutes.
On a clear sunny day in wintery temperatures which varied from minus one Celsius to plus two, the African was far too strong for his opponents.
The 25 kilometres was incorporated in the normal 20 kilometres of Alphen, one of the most famous road races in The Netherlands. Gebrselassie and six others ran the first five kilometres on an extra loop before passing the start line of the 20 kilometres race. In the first kilometres of the 20km some runners like Dutchman Kamiel Maase and Kenyan Salim Kipsang were able to follow Gebrselassie but soon the Ethiopian was on his own. With his fine stride he seemed to fly on the flat roads in the sunny polders around Alphen aan den Rijn in central Holland.
“I did not want to run a 20 kilometres I therefore asked the organisers if it was possible to run a 25 kilometres,” confirmed Gebrselassie. “They agreed and organised six opponents for me. First I thought it would be too cold to run a good time. It was the second time I have run a race in such cold circumstances. The first time was during the World Cross Country many years ago.”
After ten kilometres of his 25, Gebrselassie was on his own. He passed 15km in 43:00. From that moment on he was sure he could better the World record by a wide margin. His closest opponent in the 25 kms was Ali Mustapha Riyadh of Bahrain who clocked 1:18:31 for second place.
Salim Kipsang of Kenya won the 20 kilometres race also by a wide margin. The Kenyan who will run the Fortis Rotterdam Marathon on 9 April was from the beginning with Dutchman Kamiel Maase, who is also preparing for Rotterdam. Kipsang won in 58:17 after a 10kms split of 28:41. Maase finished second in 59:12 (10k 29:21). Elisha Sawe (Ken) was the third runner finishing under one hour (59.37).
Mihala Botezan won the women’s division of the 20 kilometres clocking 1:08:02 (10k split 33:32). The Romanian woman, preparing for the Paris Marathon (9 April) was 54 seconds ahead of Hungarian Simona Staicu who ran her first race after maternity leave.
Wim van Hemert for the IAAF
*World record pending ratification
1. Haile Gebrselassie (Eth) 1:11:37 (15 kms 43:00)
2. Al Mustapha Riyadh (Bah) 1:18:31 (46:32)
3. Said Driss (Mar) 1:19:21 (46:50)
4. Abdelatim Fakhreddine (Fra) 1: 24:04 (49:10)
5. Tarik Jallouli (Bel) 1:33:21 (55:29)
6. Khalid Choukoud (Ned) 1:33:22 (53:27)
20kms of Alphen aan den Rijn
1. Salim Kipsang (Ken) 58:17 (10k 28:41)
2. Kamiel Maase (Ned) 59:12 (29:21)
3. Elisha Sawe (Ken) 59:37 (29:20)
4. Samson Barmao (Ken) 1:01:16 (29:50)
5. Saji Bouazza (Bel) 1:01:27 (30:12)
6. Said Ribag (Mar) 1:01:54
7. Karl Johan Rasmussen (Nor) 1:02:58
8. Fransua Woldemariam (Ned) 1:04:02
1. Mihaela Botezan (Rom) 1:08:02 (33:32)
2. Simone Staicu (Hun) 1:08:56 (34:16)
3. Mounia Aboulahcen (Bel) 1:09:41 (34:47)
4. Kristijna Loonen (Ned) 1:12:03
5. Ingrid Prigge (Ned) 1:12:03 (correct)
6. Dana Janeckova (Cze) 1:12:30