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Gebrselassie smashes UK all-comers' record in Manchester

2005-05-23

Haile Gebrselassie showed his stature as the world's great-ever distance runner when setting a United Kingdom's All-Comers' record in Sunday's BUPA Great Manchester Run. Gebrselassie struck 14 seconds off the previous mark set by Kenya's Felix Limo in Swansea nearly three years ago, with a breathtaking performance of 27minutes 25seconds. The 32-year-old Ethiopian's speedy victory saw both runner-up Juan Carlos de la Ossa and Sergiy Lebid dragged to Spanish and Ukrainian national road running records. de la Ossa the last contestant to survive Gebrselassie's relentless pace, was the first Spaniard ever to smash the 28minutes barrier on the roads, lowering his own record by seven seconds to 27min 55sec.

Lebid, five-times the European cross country champion, ran himself to a standstill at the head of the 20,000 field, slicing 10seconds from his own Ukrainian best. But the day belonged to Gebrselassie who was at the front of the leading pack which flew through the first kilometre in a lightning two minutes 41 seconds, then by the half distance had, apart from de la Ossa, broken the field. That wasn't surprising as they motored through five kilometres in 13min 52sec which made it inevitable Gebrselassie holder of 17 world records, was going to decimate Limo's fastest-ever time on British soil.

Gebrselassie then rid himself of the challenge of de las Ossa with a swift 2min 51sec kilometre split, completing the second circuit in a very impressive 13min 33sec. "I could have run under 27 minutes if there had been pacemakers," said Gebrselassie highly delighted to have performed so well, in his first race for over three months, after his rampant run. The world record holder for the distance with a time of 27min 02sec, said: "I was a little bit worried about the weather and the possibility of the wind getting up," but to his relief, Manchester failed to live up to its reputation as a wet city.

"It was a little bit on the cold side and as I said if I hadn't been running on my own, it would have been a much faster time," added Gebrselassie, who last week revealed his Championships track career, is over. Gebrselassie planning an autumn marathon insisted his win although highly welcome, didn't tell him anything about how he will fare when seriously stepping up to the distance. "They're two different races and totally different in concept," said Gebrselassie who missed last month's Flora London Marathon when not quite racing fit after recovering from an Achilles operation.

But he warned his rivals: "Of course I can run two hours four minutes. I will have to if I want to break the world record," currently standing to a previous Manchester champion Paul Tergat who ran 2hr 04min 55sec in Berlin in 2003.

Chris Davies who managed to hang on to the leading pack until just before five kilometres, lowered his personal best by fifteen seconds when maintaining his leadership of the British rankings with an excellent fifth place in 28min 37sec.


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