Haile Gebrselassie wins the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half-Marathon in Phoenix in a World record (Elite Racing) © Copyright
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Haile tries once more for immortality in Hengelo - UPDATED - withdraws unfit

Most track and field aficionados would probably already describe Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie, as a distance running god.

<<UPDATE>> 22 May 2006

Haile Gebrselassie has withdrawn after informing the organisers that he is not yet fit enough after running the London Marathon last month. He will now attend the FBK Games as a non-participating guest.

The organisers have in response contracted two other Ethiopian stars for the meet. Sileshi Sihine who will run the men's 10,000 metres, and Meseret Defar the women's 5000 metres.

<<UPDATE>> 22 May 2006

Nethertheless the four-time World and twice Olympic 10,000 metres champion, will be attempt to secure that mantle by making his second career attempt at the now rarely contested One Hour Run on the track at the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games, the annual Grand Prix which is part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour, next Sunday (28 May) in Hengelo, the Netherlands.

Gebrselassie, the 10km World record holder, who with the exception of his recent disappointment at the London Marathon (9th 2:09:05) has been in brilliant form this year pummelling away at various road running World records (20km 55:48; Half Marathon 58:55; 25km 1:11:37 – all three times are pending ratification by the IAAF), last attempted the One Hour Run on 2 June 2002 at the same Hengelo meeting. On that occasion after approximately 39 minutes of the track race run, in windy and warm conditions (22C), Gebrselassie hobbled off into the infield, with serious cramps in his right leg and was taken out of the stadium to sympathetic applause.

Most of the long distance greats of athletics history have viewed the One Hour Run record as one of the classic markers of a great career. Finland’s Paavo Nurmi (19,210m in 1928), Czech Emil Zatopek (19,558m and 20,052m in 1951) and Australia’s Ron Clarke (20,322 in 1965), all rose to the challenge, as well as breaking the 5000 and 10,000m World records in their illustrious track careers.

The current World record stands at 21,101m and was set by Mexico’s Arturo Barrios in 1991. However, while this mark will surely be in Gebrselassie’s aim, the previous best of the man who is now his manager, Netherlands’ Jos Hermens (20,944m, 1976) which remains the European area record, has more of an emotional hold on the Ethiopian master.

“I go for the one hour record because of the connection with Jos,” confirmed Gebrselassie at the time of his original attempt four years ago, “I want to bring the record back into the ‘family’!”

“I have set four of my World records in Hengelo and the crowd there doesn’t give me 100% support, they give me 110%. The spectators make me feel so welcome and I have the support of the people behind me,” confirmed Gebrselassie, who in recognition of his sporting achievements was awarded the freedom of Hengelo by the City Council some years ago.

Next Sunday Gebrselassie will have for good company 28-year-old Paul Kosgei of Kenya who took this year’s Berlin Half Marathon in 59:07 (2 April), and will be among a posse of six experienced African distance runners.

As a footnote, the African record is 20,639m and has been held by Sammy Nyangincha of Kenya since 30 March 1991 (La Fléche).

Chris Turner
IAAF Editorial Manager

One Hour Run Entry List
Gebrselassie, Haile ETH
Kosgei, Paul KEN
Kimugul, Paul KEN
Taragon, Wilfred KEN
Sulle, Martin TAN
Kiprotich, Wilson KEN
Guta, Abyote ETH