Gebrselassie focuses on endurance for record attempt

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BERLIN, Sep 29 (Reuters) Haile Gebrselassie, who was on world record pace in last year's Berlin marathon before fading at the finish, said he had worked hard to improve his endurance and would again try to break the record tomorrow.

The 34-year-old Ethiopian won the 2006 race in a personal best of two hours five minutes 56 seconds, 61 seconds slower than his great track rival Paul Tergat's world record set on the same course in 2003.

''Berlin is a very fast course and we'll try,'' Gebrselassie told a news conference yesterday when asked if he felt fit enough to break the Kenyan's mark. ''I'm very confident.

''My problem last year was the last part of the race. I have since done a lot of long training runs,'' added Gebrselassie, who was on course to eclipse Tergat until he was slowed over the last few kilometres by powerful headwinds.

''Instead of speed I've been doing long distance training. I don't think I'm losing any speed.'' Gebrselassie, who won four successive world titles over 10,000 metres and set numerous world records on the track before turning to road racing, said he had dreamt about breaking the marathon record in Berlin.

On a visit to the German capital in August he wrote his goal, 2:03, on a drawing board.

MILLION SPECTATORS ''To write that down is a lot easier than running it,'' he said ahead of tomorrow's race, one of the world's biggest with 40,000 runners and a million spectators lining the streets.

Gebrselassie was hoping for more of a challenge from his rivals, and at least more company towards the end of the race from a team of five pacemakers.

Tergat was pushed all the way to the finish in 2003 by Sammy Korir of Kenya.

''That's very important in a marathon,'' said Gebrselassie.

''When you run, especially at the end, you need someone to pull you or push you. It's not just competition, it's help.'' One of the pacemakers who will take him through the 30-km mark is Rodgers Rop of Kenya, who won the Boston and New York marathons in 2002.

Philip Manyim, who won the 2005 Berlin marathon in 2:07.41, will also feature.

''If the pace is not too high in the early part and picks up later, I will be okay,'' said the Kenyan. ''But if the pace is too high, I'm sorry man.'' Gebrselassie said he was hoping for temperatures of between 12 and 18 degrees Celsius (64.40F), no wind and no rain.

Reuters PDS DB1051

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