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New Marathon WR
October 4, 2007 11:36 AM   Subscribe

2:04:26 Sunday 1 Oct. Haile Gebrselassie set a new World Record (by 29 seconds!) when he won the Berlin Marathon. He's held the WR at 2k and 3k (indoor), 5k (several times) (1998 part 1, 2) , 10k (several times), 10mile, 1/2 marathon, one hour (also) and 25k. Bonus: Alan Webb bests the American Record for the Mile this summer: 3:46.91
posted by OmieWise (21 comments total)

 
Score one for Jah! oh wait. Where'd that Gebr- come from?

According to his biography on the International Olympic Committee website[15], as a child growing up on a farm in Ethiopia he used to run ten kilometres to school every morning, and the same back every evening. This led to a distinctive running posture, with his left arm crooked as if still holding his schoolbooks.

One hell of a runner.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:47 AM on October 4, 2007


How usual is it for someone to excel at both long- and short-distance racing in this way?
posted by Miko at 11:47 AM on October 4, 2007


Are marathon winners / record setters tested for performance-enhancing drugs?
posted by xmutex at 11:54 AM on October 4, 2007


How usual is it for someone to excel at both long- and short-distance racing in this way?

These are all considered distance races, and he's actually followed the normal progression of running his way up to the marathon. Some people don't, but many do.

Are marathon winners / record setters tested for performance-enhancing drugs?

Yes. WRs aren't certified until such tests come back negative, I believe.
posted by OmieWise at 11:59 AM on October 4, 2007


Are marathon winners / record setters tested for performance-enhancing drugs?

Of course.

Which, come to think of it, is a very sad statement. But it appears Haile is just a natural. He just groks running deeply.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:02 PM on October 4, 2007


Thanks for the rare running post. A wonderful sport, full of beautiful performances, fine examples of the human spirit and truly thrilling victories. Not that I'm a fan. Also, this seems like as good a time as any to add a few links of other remarkable recent achievements in distance running:

The finish of the 2000 Olympic Games 10000m. Our man Haile "The Emperor" Gebrselassie, by all accounts a kind and generous person as well as probably the greatest all-around distance runner in the history of the sport, defeats Kenyan great Paul Tergat (himself holder of the just-broken marathon world record of
2:04:55) in a thrilling finish.

Daniel Komen's 1996 world record in the 3000m. At only 20 years old, Komen, a Kenyan, shattered what was considered then one of the most difficult world records. His time of 7:20 equates to about 7:55 for *two miles*. No one has approached this sort of performance since.

Hicham El Guerrouj's 1999 world record in the mile. Most world record attempts involve several rabbits pacing the challenger but are, in essence, a race of one runner against the clock. This mile record attempt was planned the same way. The 20 year old Kenyan Noah Ngeny apparently didn't get the memo.

Athens Olympics 10000m final. Commentary in Italian. "Mama mia! Stupendo Bekele!" Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, who now challenges Geb for the title of world's best distance runner, shows his extraterrestrial form in winning Olympic gold. Bekele and fellow Ethiopian Sileshi Sihine had placed their own races in peril by slowing the pace down early to allow an injured Gebrselassie a chance to medal. The Emperor eventually faded but Bekele left no doubt about the outcome with his scorching final lap.

Bekele Song. Ethiopians take their running seriously. Gebrselassie and Bekele both are national heroes, as shown by this music video celebrating their accomplishments. I love the extended footage of Bekele turning nearly all the way around during the Olympic 10000m to check on his compatriot and friend Gebrselassie, as well as the shots of businessmen dancing in the street after their successes.

Finally, yes, the winners are tested for performance enhancing drugs; no, the tests aren't foolproof; yes, running has a drug problem; no, it doesn't negate the beauty of this performance.
posted by bepe at 12:13 PM on October 4, 2007 [4 favorites]


To put this in perspective, 2:04:26 is around a 4:43min/mile pace. That's running under a five-minute mile for 26.2 freaking miles.

He's not human. He's a gazelle.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:18 PM on October 4, 2007


Hmm, what is it about East Africans and running? That's really cool.
posted by nasreddin at 12:38 PM on October 4, 2007


Berlin is apparently a pretty flat course, perfect for setting records. What an amazing runner, his jogging speed is easily my sprinting speed. For 2 freakin' hours.
posted by Hutch at 12:57 PM on October 4, 2007


My wife counters that she burns more calories than he does when she takes more than twice that time to run a marathon. Not sure what to make of that claim. Nice post, thanks!
posted by maxwelton at 1:03 PM on October 4, 2007


Gebrselassie, Bekele, Tergat, etc... these guys are super human. I have trouble running an 8 minute mile on the treadmill at the gym; I don't even know if I can sprint as fast as they can run... for 2+ hours. I am utterly awed at their achievements.
posted by C.Batt at 1:23 PM on October 4, 2007


maxwelton: I think that's probably true in the same way that it's true a walker burns more calories than a runner when both are covering the same distance. The walker takes longer to cover it, so their heart rate is higher for a longer time period, burning more calories.

The intensity is different, to be sure, but duration can make a bigger difference than intensity in terms of calorie burn if it's long enough.
posted by Miko at 1:57 PM on October 4, 2007


Aww, that’s pretty good. I guess. I could probably do it if I didn’t have the dog with me.

Gebrselassie’s dominance aside, gotta respect Abel Kirui. If you have to come in second, make sure the guy ahead of you breaks the world record.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:20 PM on October 4, 2007


maxwelton/miko: actually, the amount of calories burned is always ~100 for a mile, whether you walk or run, so really walking just takes longer to burn the same amount of calories. Your wife could definitely say that she expended a lot less EFFORT to burn the same calories...
posted by tumbleweedjack at 2:53 PM on October 4, 2007


There's a walk/run analysis here that's more complicated.
posted by Miko at 3:16 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is wonderful. He's a great ambassador for the sport, well regarded and well liked by even his fiercest competitors. These late career performances must feel especially gratifying given that many people assumed his achilles injury in 2004 during the build-up to the Olympics signaled the end of his ability to ever race again at the level he once had.
posted by stagewhisper at 3:31 PM on October 4, 2007


I bike around town here quite a bit, and try to choose routes that are pretty flat and have a minimum of stops. It takes me only a little less than two hours to cover 40 km - about the same distance and time as Gebrselassie's marathon. I'm awpressed (= awed [by him] + depressed [any slower and I'd leave a slug trail]).
posted by hangashore at 4:27 PM on October 4, 2007


If were are posting distance links I have to put this one up.

Billy Mills Tokyo Olympics 10k

In the probably the greatest finish of any Olympic Distance event, Native American Unknown pulls out the win. Gives me goose bumps every time I watch it.
posted by afu at 10:35 PM on October 4, 2007


We can't talk distance running without watching Tommy Tiernan telling stories about his friend Declan.

He said that he was able to keep up with them for the first four miles. Now that's an achievement. Cuz those fellas don't hang around. It's like they're made out of gazelles.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 3:49 AM on October 5, 2007


Hmm, what is it about East Africans and running?

Actually, there's a lot written on the subject if you care to look. Much of it handwringing and touchy, frightened of promulgating stereotypes. Which is a little odd, since I've never met a runner yet who is weirded out by the phenom. (Not saying they don't exist, I just haven't met them.)
posted by IndigoJones at 5:56 AM on October 5, 2007


actually, the amount of calories burned is always ~100 for a mile,

This is true under the assumption that everybody weighs about 150 lb and is approximately spherical in body shape.

But if maxwelton's wife weighs twice as much as Gebrselassie does, then she'll burn (roughly) twice as many calories over the same distance.
posted by sour cream at 11:59 AM on October 5, 2007


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