Haile Gebrselassie smashed his marathon world record by 27 seconds today, winning the Berlin Marathon in a city where he has had so much success. The 35-year-old Ethiopian took advantage of excellent conditions on a flat course to finish in 2 hours, 3 minutes, 59 seconds. Despite an ailing calf he shattered the mark he set in Berlin last year and became the first man to win this race three times. In the women’s race, Irina Mikitenko of Germany won in 2:19:19. She improved her personal best by more than four minutes to record the seventh fastest time for a woman.
Gebrselassie thanked the crowd of about 1 million for helping him set his 26th world record. “Before I came here, I knew I can do something here in Berlin because since I started running, Berlin is my lucky city,” he said. Nearly 41,000 runers competed under clear, sunny skies in mild temperatures. Gebrselassie paced himself well and was in control for the 26.2 miles. He was way out front on passing through the Brandenburg Gate. James Kwambai, who kept up with Gebrselassie for nearly 22 miles, finished second in 2:05:36, improving his personal best by nearly five minutes. Another Kenyan, Charles Kamathi, was third in 2:07:48. Berlin’s course often provides fast times. Five years ago, Paul Tergat of Kenya ran 2:04:55, becoming the first runner to go under 2:05.
Gebrselassie first ran in Berlin in 2006 and clocked 2:05:56 before breaking the world record last year. In three years, he has improved nearly two minutes on his time. The Ethiopian skipped the Olympic marathon in Beijing because of the city’s pollution. However, he finished sixth in the 10,000 meters, a race he won at Atlanta in 1996 and at Sydney in 2000. (Source: AP)