Gebrselassie Shatters World Half-Marathon Record at P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona
Ethiopian Great Sets 20th World Record
by Ryan Lamppa
Running USA wire
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TEMPE, Ariz. - (January 15, 2006) - In an impressive display of running, two-time Olympic gold medalist Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia shattered the world half-marathon record by 21 seconds at the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona on Sunday morning in the Valley of the Sun. The four-time world 10,000 meter champion ran 58 minutes, 55 seconds to break the previous record of 59:16 set by Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya last September in Rotterdam. En route to his 20th world record, Gebrselassie also set the 20K world road record with his 55:48.
In a special professional race set-up for his world record attempt, six athletes including four of his countrymen were entered. Under near ideal racing conditions - sunny and cool with a west wind, Gebrselassie, 32, needed to average approximately 4:30 a mile to put the record in reach. The pack of four men which included Gebrselassie hit 5K (3.1 miles) in 14:05 just over record pace.
Between 7K and 8K, Gebrselassie pulled away from his pacers to regain the lost time. After hitting the 10K in 28:01, the fluid Ethiopian rattled off a series of sub-2:45 kilometers as he rocketed the next 5K in 13:44 - 15K in 41:45 (a U.S. All-Comers record) - to get ahead of record pace and later, passed 10 miles in 44:53, another U.S. All-Comers record.
With near effortless precision, the diminutive Gebrselassie passed the 20K mark in 55:48 and with just over 1000 meters left, the question now was by how much he would break the world half-marathon record.
"That was my plan (to negative split)," said Gebrselassie. "Our plan was the second part. I told them (the pacesetters) not to worry about it. Keep the first part going. I will do my best for the second part."
As he entered the Arizona State University campus, the crowds grew larger and louder and as he turned the last corner for his final sprint, the crowd roared like a jet engine to pull him to the finish line in 58:55, the first man under 59 minutes for the half-marathon.
"This is so fantastic," added the smiling Gebrselassie. "I did not train here in America. This is my first record in America and it is really something special. I'm so happy.
"You can see from today, the record, I'll be ready in London (Marathon in April). London is going to be something different; I'm okay just to win. To win in London is something special."
P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half-Marathon
Phoenix/Scottsdale/Tempe, AZ, Sunday, January 15, 2006
1) Haile Gebrselassie, Ethiopia, 58:55, $25,000 world record bonus
2) Tessema Abshiro, Ethiopia, 1:02:57
3) Habte Jifar, Ethiopia, 1:04:40
4) Abiyote Guta, Ethiopia, 1:05:58
5) Fidele Barangsabe, Ethiopia, 1:08:44
6) John Little, USA/AZ, 1:10:35
En route records
previous record, 56:18, Paul Tergat (KEN), Stramilano Half-Marathon split, ITA, 04/04/98
U.S. All-Comers including the above
previous record, 42:22, Todd Williams (USA/TN), Gate River Run, FL, 03/11/95
10 mile, 44:53
previous record, 45:37, Ondoro Osoro (KEN), First of America, FL, 10/18/97
For more information on the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon & ½ Marathon, visit RnRAZ.com.
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Special thanks to
Ryan Lamppa, Running USA Media Services Director.
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