Sunday, May 22, 2005

Gebrselassie Shatters All-Comers Record


Haile Gebrselassie cemented his stature as the world's greatest-ever distance runner as he set a United Kingdom all-comers' record in the BUPA Great Manchester Run.

Gebrselassie struck 14 seconds off the previous mark set by Kenya's Felix Limo in Swansea nearly three years ago, with a breathtaking performance of 27 minutes 25 seconds.

The 32-year-old Ethiopian's speedy victory saw both runner-up Juan Carlos de la Ossa and Sergiy Lebid dragged to Spanish and Ukrainian national road-running records.

De la Ossa, the last opponent to survive Gebrselassie's relentless pace, was the first Spaniard to beat the 28-minute barrier on the roads, lowering his own record by seven seconds to 27mins 55secs.

Lebid, five-time European cross-country champion, ran himself to a standstill at the head of the 20,000 field, slicing 10 seconds from his own Ukrainian best.

But the day belonged to Gebrselassie, who was at the front of the leading pack which flew through the first kilometre in a lightning two minutes 41 seconds, before destroying the field, apart from de la Ossa, by the halfway stage.

That was not surprising as they motored through five kilometres in 13mins 52secs which made it inevitable Gebrselassie was going to decimate Limo's fastest-ever time on British soil.

Gebrselassie then rid himself of the challenge of de la Ossa with a swift 2mins 51secs kilometre split, completing the second circuit in a very impressive 13mins 33secs.

"I could have run under 27 minutes if there had been pacemakers," said Gebrselassie, highly delighted to have performed so well in his first race for over three months.

The world-record holder for the distance with a time of 27mins 02secs, said: "I was a little bit worried about the weather and the possibility of the wind getting up," but to his relief Manchester failed to live up to its reputation as a wet city.

"It was a little bit on the cold side and as I said if I hadn't been running on my own, it would have been a much faster time," added Gebrselassie, who last week revealed his track career is over.


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