The man regarded by many as the greatest distance runner of the modern era will lead perhaps the best marathon field ever assembled in London on April 13th.
Ethiopian great Haile Gebrselassie has agreed to be the pacemaker for the elite men in the British capital.
The plan is for Haile, who will be five days shy of his 41st birthday, to take the top men to the 30-kilometer point in about one hour and 28 minutes – or about 4:43 per mile.
Then Haile will step aside and let the younger athletes see if they have what it takes to break the marathon world record of 2:03:23, set by Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang last year in Berlin, Germany.
Kipsang will be on the start line in London, part of a sensational African field put together by race
organizers. Another Kenyan, Emmanuel Mutai, the London Marathon course record holder (2:04:40), will also be testing his speed, as will Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede, the reigning London Marathon champion.
In addition, Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich, the reigning world and Olympic champion, will be running London, and so will two more Olympic champions who are making their marathon debuts: Somalia-born Mo Farah of Britain and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, the world record holder at both 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters.
In an interview with “The Energetic” Andy Edwards, longtime Sonny Side of Sports track analyst, Haile Gebrselassie says he’s never seen such an outstanding collection of running talent in one marathon, and the chance to run with such stellar athletes was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
Haile adds that his good relationship with London Marathon organizer Dave Bedford was his other main reason for taking on the pacemaker duties.
After London, Haile Gebrselassie is scheduled to run the Hamburg Marathon in Germany in May, when he will take a shot at the over age 40, masters world record of 2:08:46, set by Mexico’s Andres Espinosa in Berlin in 2003.