Gebrselassie wins Berlin marathon with world record
The Ethiopian Gebrselassie, 35, clocked 2 hours 3 minutes 59 seconds for the 42.195-kilometers distance, taking 27 seconds off the record 2:04:26 he ran for the Berlin victory in 2007.
Berlin -- Haile Gebrselassie bettered his world record on Sunday to complete a title hat-trick at the Berlin Marathon.
The Ethiopian Gebrselassie, 35, clocked 2 hours 3 minutes 59 seconds for the 42.195-kilometres distance, taking 27 seconds off the record 2:04:26 he ran for the Berlin victory in 2007.
Gebrselassie also won the race in the German capital in 2006 to become the first man in 35 editions to get three Berlin victories.
"I am so, so, so happy -- everything was perfect, the weather, the pacemakers, the crowd," said the delighted Gebrselassie.
"Berlin is my lucky city."
German Irina Mikitenko, meanwhile, became the fourth-fastest women in marathon history with 2:19:19 hours to add the Berlin success to her win in London earlier in the year.
Gebrselassie won ahead of Kenyans James Kwambai (2:05:36) and Charles Kamathi (2:07:48).
He ran the 10,000m at the Beijing Olympics in August (where he came sixth) instead of the marathon there and went through a calf-muscle scare two weeks ago which forced him to sit out training for a week.
"I had a small calf muscle problem two weeks ago," said Gebrselassie. "I had some doubts but today was really good."
Gebrselassie made the most of perfect conditions, sunny skies, mild temperatures and hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets.
He passed the halfway mark in 1:02:05 hours and then ran the second half of the race in 1:01:54, shaking off Kwambai and storming over the finish line close to the Brandenburg Gate for his 26th career world record.
Gebrselassie - a two-time Olympic and four-time world champion in the 10,000m - has now raised the world record by 57 seconds in the last two Berlin races. The former mark was 2:04:55 from Kenyan Paul Tergat, also on the flat Berlin course in 2003.
Officials said that Gebrselassie will be back in Berlin to run the marathon at the world championships next year, which will take place on a different course.
So will Mikitenko, whose race at the worlds on August 23, 2009, coincides with her 37th birthday.
"I can't believe it. It was always my dream to run under 2:20. I think I can run as fast next year," said Mikitenko.
Mikitenko became the ninth women to dip below the 2:20-hours barrier as she beat Ethiopian Askale Magarsa (2:21:31) and Helena Kirop of Kenya (2:25:01).
Only Briton Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25), Catherine Ndereba of Kenya (2:18.47) und Mizuki Noguchi of Japan (2:19.12) have run faster marathons than the Kazakhstan-born Mikitenko.
The Berlin Marathon featured some 40,000 runners and is also part of the prestigious World Marathon Series.
-- Andrew James/DPA/Expatia