Haile Gebrselassie showed his stature as the world's great-ever
distance runner when setting a United Kingdom's All-Comers' record in
Sunday's 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 27minutes 25seconds. 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 contestant to survive
Gebrselassie's relentless pace, was the first Spaniard ever to smash
the 28minutes barrier on the roads, lowering his own record by seven
seconds to 27min 55sec.
Lebid, five-times the European cross country champion, ran
himself to a standstill at the head of the 20,000 field, slicing
10seconds 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, then
by the half distance had, apart from de la Ossa, broken the field. That
wasn't surprising as they motored through five kilometres in 13min
52sec which made it inevitable Gebrselassie holder of 17 world records,
was going to decimate Limo's fastest-ever time on British soil.
Gebrselassie then rid himself of the challenge of de las Ossa
with a swift 2min 51sec kilometre split, completing the second circuit
in a very impressive 13min 33sec. "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, after his
rampant run. The world record holder for the distance with a time of
27min 02sec, 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 Championships track career, is
over. Gebrselassie planning an autumn marathon insisted his win
although highly welcome, didn't tell him anything about how he will
fare when seriously stepping up to the distance. "They're two different
races and totally different in concept," said Gebrselassie who missed
last month's Flora London Marathon when not quite racing fit after
recovering from an Achilles operation.
But he warned his rivals: "Of course I can run two hours four minutes.
I will have to if I want to break the world record," currently standing
to a previous Manchester champion Paul Tergat who ran 2hr 04min 55sec
in Berlin in 2003.
Chris Davies who managed to hang on to the leading pack until just
before five kilometres, lowered his personal best by fifteen seconds
when maintaining his leadership of the British rankings with an
excellent fifth place in 28min 37sec.