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Gebrselassie Legend Grows With One Hour Record in Ostrava
June 27, 2007
By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2007 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved; used with permission

OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC (27-Jun) -- Despite his recent career shift to the roads, Haile Gebrselassie illustrated quite clearly that he's still very much at home on the track after breaking

the World record in the one hour run at the 46th Golden Spike Grand Prix in Ostrava tonight.

Running before a near capacity crowd at Mestsky Stadium, the legendary Ethiopian covered 21,285 metres over the course of 60 minutes to break the previous best, 21,101m, set by Mexican Arturo Barrios in La Fléche, France, on 30 March 1991.

"Today is just a fantastic day," said a beaming Gebrselassie, after adding 184 metres to the classic distance running challenge. "I thought at half way that I would get the record. But 50 percent of the record is because of the spectators, and they were fantastic."

This was the second attempt by Gebrselassie to tackle the record. In his first, in Hengelo in 2002, a calf problem forced him off the track after 39 minutes. Besides a few grimaces, he showed no signs of faltering this time around. Assisted by three pacesetters, he reached the 10,000m point in 28:11.24 and two kilometres later (33:50.74), he was on his own. With his long refined surgical precision, Gebrselassie knocked off 68-second lap after 68-second lap before displaying remnants of his swift legendary finishing kick when the final minute countdown began. In the waning moments he even won another race, dashing past a judge who tried desperately to keep up and mark the spot where the hour would end.

"I was expecting something special today," he said. "I was worried a little bit about the wind, but it was ok. I think I could have run even faster."

En route, the 34-year-old Ethiopian also broke the World record for 20,000m, covering 50 laps in 56:25.98, well within the previous 56:55.6 also set by Barrios. These were the 23rd and 24th World records* set by the two-time Olympic 10,000m champion.


With Gebrselassie setting the tone for the meeting in the late afternoon, it was appropriate that the two longest events on the evening programme would produce some drama of their own.

Meseret Defar didn't promise another world record in the 5000; racing again just 12 days after her scintillating 14:16.63 performance, another certainly wasn't expected. When she and compatriots Gelete Burka and Meselech Melkamu reached 2000m in just over 5:51, it was apparent that another record would have to wait for another day. But Defar did predict a strong race, and her compatriots gave her one.

The Olympic champion made her first attempt to break away with three laps to go, but the pair in pursuit stayed with her, with Melkamu even retaking the lead with less than two laps to go. Even when Defar shifted into her sustained kick for home entering the final lap, the company remained on her shoulder until she mustered yet another gear over the final 150 metres. Her 14:30.18 winning time might have seemed anti-climactic in comparison to her performance in the Norwegian capital, but it's important to bear in mind that only seven other women have ever covered the distance faster.

"I felt tired after the meeting in Oslo, and that was also the reason why I did not break the World record again," Defar said. "Ten days are not enough to recover."

Both Burka (14:31.20) and Melkamu (14:33.83) in second and third were rewarded with career bests.


The men's 5000 was a much deeper affair, with a large pack in contention some seven minutes into the race. With five laps to go, Tariku Bekele, Craig Mottram and Ethiopian teenager Ali Abdoosh were pushing the pace until Mottram took control a lap later. Moses Masai forged forward to take his turn at the lead with three laps remaining. Making a move similar to his decisive one to take last September's World Cup 3000 over Kenenisa Bekele, Mottram again jetted to the front with about 650m to go, forcing Bekele into an early kick. When he crossed the line and blew a kiss to the crowd, Mottram was clearly delighted that his plan had worked.

"I just wound up faster, faster and faster," said Mottram, who covered the final lap in about 53 seconds en route to his 13:04.97 victory to Bekele's 13:05.42. "I felt Bekele coming up with about 650 to go, so I thought, 'OK, let's get it on.'" Smiling, the Australian added, "I dropped his brother doing the same thing last year, and I figured he's not that good yet so I'd smash him too."

Abraham Feleke closed fast to finish third, clocking a season's best 13:05.83.

*Marty Post reminds us that the list of 24 could more accurately be described as "24 world best statistically acceptable
performances" because some were set at non-IAAF record distances.  Here is the complete list:

1) 12:56.96 5000m Hengelo 04Jun94
2) 8:07.46 * 2 miles Kerkrade 27May95
3) 26:43.53 10,000m Hengelo 05Jun95
4) 12:44.39 5000m Zurich 16Aug95
5) 13:10.98 5000m Sindelfingen (i) 27Jan96
6) 7:30.72 3000m Stuttgart (i) 04Feb96
7) 12:59.04 5000m Stockholm (i) 20Feb97
8) 8:01.08 * 2 miles Hengelo 31May97
9) 26:31.32 10,000m Oslo 04Jul97
10) 12:41.86 5000m Zurich 13Aug97
11) 7:26.14 3000m Karlsruhe (i) 25Jan98
12) 4:52.86 * 2000m Birmingham (i) 15Feb98
13) 26:22.75 10,000m Hengelo 01Jun98
14) 12:39.36 5000m Helsinki 13Jun98
15) 12:50.38 5000m Birmingham (i) 14Feb99
16) 27:02 10km Doha 11Dec02
17) 8:04.69 * 2 miles Birmingham (i) 21Feb03
18) 41:22 ** 15km Tilburg 04Sep05
19) 44:23 * 10 miles Tilburg 04Sep05
20) 55:48 20 km Tempe 15Jan06
21) 58:55 Halfmar Tempe 15Jan06
22) 1:11:37 *** 25km Alphen aan den Rijn 12Mar06
23) 56:25.98 20,000m Ostrava 27Jun07
24) 21,285M 1 hour Ostrava 27Jun07
* not an IAAF record event
** not officially timed
*** no post-race EPO test

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