Haile Gebraselassie set new marathon record

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Berlin, Sep 30: Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia set a world record for the marathon today, winning the Berlin race in an unofficial time of two hours, four minutes and 26 seconds.

Gebrselassie, 34, bettered the mark of 2:04:55 set by Kenya's Paul Tergat on the same Berlin course on September 28, 2003.

Running in near ideal conditions, Gebrselassie was already 32 seconds inside Tergat's pace at the 10km mark.

He maintained that margin through the half-marathon point, clocking 62.29 to Tergat's 63.01, and at 30km when the last two of his five pacesetters retired.

It was the third time the men's world record was set on the fast, flat Berlin circuit where more than a million spectators lined the streets to cheer the field of 40,000 runners.

''This is wonderful, it's really special,'' Gebrselassie told German television just minutes after crossing the finishing line with a big smile on his face.

''Thank you to the people of Germany.'' Weather conditions were almost ideal with little wind and overcast skies for most of the race. The sun broke through the clouds towards the end, bringing the temperature up to 16 Celcius (60 F).

''Today it was perfect,'' he said.

''It was a little bit windy, but perfect. The audience, the spectators were great.'' The course winds through nine districts of the German capital and has a total inclination of just 30m.

Gebrselassie had tried to beat Tergat's record last year in Berlin and was on track until late in the race before falling a heartbreaking 61 seconds short.

He had faded in the final six km in the face of difficult headwinds but this year he focused on endurance training, and organisers made sure there were enough pacesetters to take him through the 30km point.

Gebrselassie won four successive world titles over 10,000m and set numerous world records on the track before turning to road racing late in his career.

Reuters>

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