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LetsRun.com The Week That Was
January 12 - January 18

by: LetsRun.com
January 20, 2009

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
The biggest action of the week came from Dubai with the Great One, where the richest first prize in professional marathoning ($250,000), as well as $1 million world record bonus, was on the line. Unless you were totally asleep, by now you know that Ethiopians Haile Gebrselassie (2:05:29) and Bezenesh Bekele (2:24:01) took home the titles and the large first place prizes in a race that was dominated by Ethiopians. Virtually all of the pre-race attention went to the great Geb's world record attempt and we'll devote most of our post-race attention to him, but before we do, let's point out a few things.

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 suggestions@letsrun.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."

Additionally, we find the 35-year-old's love of running to be remarkable. Year after year, the guy who is rich beyond his wildest dreams and has a thriving business in Ethiopia finds a way to continue to be motivated to train his ass off and put out some remarkable perfomances. The guy truly loves running. After the race, Geb said the following about running: "If I stop I think maybe I'll die. Without running there is no life."  Moreover, Geb's enthusiasm for life is contagious. Geb refuses to let age limit him and in the same profile said, "There are no limits. Believe me ... Age is not a problem. If you're old mentally then you're old physically."

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.

Geb's Marathon "Wins"


1st Place



Dubai  2009




Berlin 2008




Dubai 2008




Berlin 2007




Fukuoka 2006




Berlin 2006




Amsterdam 2005




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 A Must Read *A Truly Great Gebrselassie Profile From The London Times
Message Board Thread on Race *Haile's Record Attempt Was Aided By Sean Hartnett's Specially-Designed World Record TV Screen  (link fixed) photo here  *Geb Offers Advice To Bankers Suffering Stress From Global Financial Crisis: "They should run." *Geb Thinks It's Possible Down The Road He Could Run 2:02:59 But Most Likely 2:03:20-30
Women's Race: Adere Pleased With Her Preparations But Says She'll Need "Luck" To Repeat She faces lots of home grown competition.

Wanjiru News:
Sammy Wanjiru To Try To Bring World Record Back To Kenya At Berlin Marathon In Sept.  It wouldn't surprise us to see him get in London. *Sammy Wanjiru Has Gotten Fat 

Thumbs Up To Paul Tergat For Returning To XC Action
The Kenyan Armed Forces XC Championships are annually regarded as probably the top domestic non-national championship meet in the world. This year, the race more than lived up to the hype. In the actual men's race, former world junior silver winner Vincent Kiprop won, but the day truly belonged to 5-time world champ Paul Tergat, who made a surprise return to cross-country after a decade away and finished 17th in very muddy conditions. The best part about the weekend. It sounds like Tergat is maybe considering a serious return to XC action. He'll decide soon.

A major thumbs up to Mr. Tergat. Unlike Haile G, you proved this week that you aren't afraid to compete.

In the women's race, Lineth Chepkurui dominated as former world 10k champion Sally Barsosio returned to racing.

More: Former World Jr. Silver Winner Vincent Kiprop Gets Armed Forces Title As Paul Tergat Steals The Show *Tergat Impressed With How XC Has Evolved Over Last Decade - Calls For Early Start To Training Camp
Mboard: Thread On Tergat's Return
*Another Article With Picture Of Tergat In Main Pack *Nice Picture Of Tergat After Race Here
Women's Race: Lineth Chepkurui Romps To 31-Second Win As Sally Barsosio Returns

Quote of the Week #1
"I was starting to think I was the best 2:11 marathoner in the world."
- American Dathan Ritzenhein talking about why he's going to run London this spring in a profile of him prior to his 2009 debut this weekend at the US Half Marathon championships in Houston where he'll face a loaded field that includes four Olympians.

Houston: US Half Marathon Championships & Chevron Houston Marathon
The race that served as the launching pad for Ryan Hall into marathon stardom seemed set to do the same this year for Dathan Ritzenhein. Entering Houston, after a top 10 performance at the

Meb's Back