Berlin: Haile Gebrselassie bettered his world record yesterday to complete a title hat-trick at the Berlin Marathon.
The Ethiopian Gebrselassie, 35, clocked 02:03:59 for the 42.195km distance, taking 27 seconds off the record 02:04:26 he ran for the Berlin victory in 2007.
The legend crossing the finish line...
Gebrselassie also won the race in the German capital 2006 to become the first man in 35 editions to get three Berlin victories.
“I am so, so, so happy. Everything was perfect, the weather, the pacemakers, the crowd,” said the delighted Gebrselassie.
“Berlin is my lucky city.”
German Irina Mikitenko, meanwhile, became the fourth-fastest women in a race history with 02:19:19 to add the Berlin success to her win in London earlier in the year.
Gebrselassie won ahead of Kenyans James Kwambai (02:05:36) and Charles Kamathi (02:07.48), undeterred by a recent calf muscle problem and a not fully ideal preparation - having run the 10,000m at the Beijing Olympics in August where he came sixth.
“I had a small calf muscle problem two weeks ago,” said Gebrselassie, who had to sit out training for a week and only resumed practice eight days ago. “I had some doubts but today was really good.”
Gebrselassie made the most of perfect conditions, sunny skies and not too warm temperatures, passing the halfway mark in 01:02:05 hours well on record course.
He then ran the second half of the race in 01:01:54, shaking off Kwambai and storming over the finish line close to the Brandenburg Gate in world record time.
The moment history was made...
Gebrselassie has now raised the world record by 57 seconds in the last two Berlin races, the former mark being 02:04.55 from Kenyan Paul Tergat in 2003.
Officials said that Gebrselassie will be back in Berlin to run the marathon at the world championships next year, which will take place on a different course.
So will Mikitenko, whose race at the worlds will be on her 37th birthday.
“I think I can run as fast next year,” said Mikitenko after becoming only the ninth women to dip below the 2:20-hours barrier.
“I can’t believe it. It was always my dream to run under 2:20,” she said after her big win in only her third marathon.
The Berlin Marathon featured some 40,000 runners and is also part of the prestigious World Marathon Series.