Haile Gebrselassie won the Dubai Marathon on Friday, falling three minutes short of his own world record.
The 36-year-old Ethiopian champion finished the 42.2-kilometre race in 2 hours, 6 minutes and 9 seconds ahead of Kenya’s Chala Dechase Beyene (2:06:33) and Ethiopian Eshetu Wendimu Tsige (2:06:46).
The women’s event was also dominated by Ethiopians, with Mamitu Daska Molisa wining the race at 2:24:18 ahead of compatriot Aberu Kebede Shewave (2:24:26). Helena Loshanvang Kirop of Kenya was third (2:24:54) and ahead of Ethiopian defending champion Bezunesh Bekele Sertsu (2:26:05).
Gebrselassie set the world record in the 2008 Berlin Marathon at 2:03:59.
On Friday, he complained of back problems and not sleeping well before the run along Dubai’s Persian Gulf coast. But, he said, he was content he won.
“It’s wonderful,” Gebrselassie said. “I wasn’t feeling very good this morning because I had a back problem but I’m very happy to win the race.”
He said woke up with a back pain and went to the doctor to check it out. “I think I slept in a different position, on my stomach, and that caused the problem,” Gebrselassie said, and added that overall, the run was “fantastic”.
“This was very special and I’m very happy,” Gebrselassie said.
“The weather was a bit warm, but overall not so bad.”
Gebrselassie made the halfway turn at 1:02:51 and was pushed in the second half of the race by the pacemakers.
He said he wanted to “move a little” after the pace makers stopped at 30 kilometres, but soon found that he couldn’t “change my gear.”
“It was a hard moment and I just had to decide a different tactic,” Gebrselassie said.
Women’s victor Molisa, who collapsed at the finish line, had enough strength left to say she was happy with the result.
“I had always dreamt of winning here and I am very happy,” said Molisa, who like Gebrselassie, took home a $250 000 winner’s prize. — Sapa-AP