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Gebrselassie Hoping for Negative Split, World Record and $1,250,000 in Dubai on Friday
By David Monti
(c) 2008 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
January 18, 2008

Setting a world record is never easy, but it's particularly difficult in the marathon.  Not only must an athlete spend three to four injury-free months training for a single competitive effort, he must have near-perfect conditions: a flat course, excellent pacemaking, ideal weather, and a well-marked and measured course.  A little luck doesn't hurt, either.

Heading into Friday's Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, Haile Gebrselassie is hoping that all of these factors will line up in his favor so he can break his own world standard of 2:04:26 set in Berlin last September.  In short, he's looking for the perfect race.

"The top priority is not the money," Gebrselassie said referring to the $1 million bonus for a new world record race organizers have on offer.  "It's the race.  But the marathon is not an easy event, you cannot predict.  Everything is
perfect, I hope it will be more perfect for the race."

Gebrselassie and his manager Jos Hermens are now focused on the unusually rainy weather in Dubai.  "I've been coming
here since 1991, and its the first time Ive seen rain," Gebrselassie remarked.

But the forecast, according to Weather.com, is good for marathon running on Friday.  The temperature for the 7h00 start should be 14C (59F), and only rise slightly for the following two hours.  However, the humidity should be over 60%, a bit higher than ideal.

Gebrselassie plans to run the first half more conservatively than the second, the proven formula used by both Paul Tergat and Gebrselassie to set their previous world marathon records.  "We'll go for an negative split," Hermens explained. "He did 62:29 in Berlin; I'd like him to do 62:15 here, but not too fast. The most important thing is that he feels good at 30-K, when the pacemakers drop out, and he has to do it himself."  He ran 61:57 for the second half in Berlin, a time which would win all but the best of the world's half-marathons.

While there are others in the race, like Kenya's Sammy Korir, the third-fastest marathon runner in history, all eyes will be on the Ethiopian and his band of pacers.  History is against him.  Only two men since 1936, James Henry Peters and Khalid Khannouchi, have broken their own marathon world records.  Peters, of England, did it in 1952 then twice in 1953.  Khannouchi, first representing Morocco and then the United States, did it in 1999 then again in 2002.


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