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LetsRun.com The Week That Was
In the third week of the New Year, the action finally got going in full force as the holiday break in big races seemingly came to a close. From marathons in Dubai, Houston and Arizona to dual meets in the middle of the heartland, we've more than got you covered.
Gebrselassie Impresses In Dubai
Let's talk about the women's race, which showed that Bekele, who was 2nd last year in the 4th-fastest debut in history (2:23:09), showed she may be the future of Ethiopian women's marathoning as she got the win over a field that was totally dominated by Ethiopians. Speaking of total domination by Ethiopians, the men's race also featured 8 of the top 10 being from Ethiopia. And we must admit we're totally baffled as to why there weren't more Kenyans in Dubai. If anyone has a theory as to why so few Kenyans competed, please email us at email@example.com. Historically, we've known Kenyans have taken off the winter season for the most part. Is it time to harvest? Is there some sort of connection between Dubai and Ethiopia? We have no idea.
But on to Geb. First of all, let us start with some praise. Geb is simply a truly remarkable person. His life story, which was captured perfectly in a brilliant London Times profile, is simply unreal. The guy is so upbeat and has such a joy for life that it's contagious. The guy is on world record pace for over 30k, comes up short on it and missed out on the record and a million dollars and yet he truly seemed happy as death
right after the finish, as shown by the photo in this article. Geb has historically struggled in the rain, so he was pleased to run well in the rain in Dubai. As he said afterwards, "I have been afraid of the rain. I cannot control my power and there is the risk of a hamstring injury. Today [in Dubai] it rained and I
think I became a very good marathon runner."
The guy is so upbeat he is even upbeat about the global financial meltdown. He says he's going to keep paying his employees for a year even if there is no business to help keep things going.
So a major thumbs up for Geb simply being Geb.
Now for the negative. Before we dare to criticize Geb, let us state that one of the co-founders of LetsRun.com had all of his Internet passwords as "Haileg" for probably the first 5 years the Internet existed. The guy is an all-time legend both on and off the track. Thus what we are about to state seems to be almost blasphemous but we've been slowly building towards this for awhile now.
Is anyone besides us tired of the world record attempts? Apparently, we aren't the only ones, as the guys over at the Science of Sport have written a piece criticizing Gebrselassie for running six straight time trials. The piece is definitely worth a read although it incorrectly states that Geb has run 6 straight time trials.
During his life, Geb has competed in 10 marathons and six of them (Amsterdam 2005, Berlin 2006, 2007, 2008, Dubai 2008 and 2009) - and four straight - have been best described as time-trial world record attempts. They really weren't races, as the winner of the race (barring a DNF by Geb) was pretty much thought to be known before the start, and Geb in fact "won" all six of these time trials, with five of the wins being basically uncontested wins as Geb won by more than 2 minutes.
Geb has therefore "raced "only 4 marathons in his life and won just one of them - Fukuoka in 2006. In 2002 London, he was 3rd, in 2006 London he was 9th , and in 2007 London he didn't finish. The 2006 Fukuoka race was a great race as things weren't decided until very, very late - it was only after the 38th km did Geb dispatch double world champion Jaouad Gharib and Dmytro Baranovsky.
To be fair, Geb's most recent world record in Berlin turned into a very riveting race as Kenyan James Kwambai unexpectedly managed to battle with Geb until the final 5km. At one point, we thought Geb might break the world record and lose.
But that's what we want to see. More races. Runs against the clock certainly have their place in the world of track and field/marathoning but they should be rare, special occasions - not twice annual affairs. To us it will be interesting to see if Geb races Berlin in 2009. We can certainly understand that given his asthma and his past record in London, why he'd want to skip London and we don't hold begrudge him for that. But honestly, since it came out this week that Sammy Wanjiru has indicated he wants to go for the world record in Berlin in September, and given the fact that Geb calls Berlin his favorite city and that he's run Berlin 3 straight years, we sure hope that we end up getting a Geb versus Wanjiru world record attempt in Berlin. If Geb doesn't show up there, it's certainly going to look like he's ducking the competition.
A real race is all we want. If it ends up being a race and and a world record attempt, that's a nice bonus. But we've gotta give out a thumbs down to any more pure record attempts unless it's preceded by a real race.
Speaking of which, we're pleased to report that recently Geb has stated his asthma likely won't give him problems in 2012 London as the August date doesn't present the same issues that April does in London.
More: Haile G Wins In 2:05:29 As Bezunesh Bekele Wins In 2:24:01
Quote of the Week #1
US Half Marathon Championships & Chevron Houston Marathon