The fall round of the World Marathon Majors begins Sunday in Berlin. Haile Gebrselassie will make his third attempt at a world record, having run 2:06:20 two years ago in Amsterdam and 2:05:56 last year in Berlin, both victories. Paul Tergat’s world record of 2:04:55 was also set in Berlin four years ago.
To Gebrselassie’s advantage are victories at the New York Half Marathon over a strong field last month and a 26:52 10,000 on the track in May. As well, Sammy Korir will be running. Korir was Tergat’s pacesetter from his record run four years ago, finishing just a second behind Tergat.
Gebrselassie was 22 seconds ahead of world record pace as late as 35 km into the race, but wilted in the heat to finish more than a minute behind the mark. Given cool weather, there is every reason to believe that the 34-year-old can set the 25th world record of his career.
Still, a world record is never a given, especially over the 42 kilometres of a marathon. Gebrselassie will need to be on top of his game, but he will also need both excellent weather and excellent pacing.
On the women’s side, defending champion Gete Wami of Ethiopia takes on Sonia O’Sullivan of Ireland. With a win, Wami will move into the top spot in the Majors series and the $500,000 prize that comes with it.
Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya, with three victories in the series, is assured of victory in the men’s side despite having no plans to race this fall.
Following Berlin are the Chicago and New York Marathons on October 7 and November 4 respectively.
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