After making his decisive move in the ninth kilometre, Haile Gebrselassie handily won the 22nd Zevenheuvelenloop 15km in this eastern Dutch city.
Gebrselassie considers The Netherlands as his second home. After all, the roads of Holland are good to him. For the third time in just two and a half months, the Ethiopian clocked a yearly world best on Dutch roads; this time, it was over 15 kilometres, as he reached the finish in 41:29, just 28 seconds short of the 41:29 World Record set by Kenyan Felix Limo on his course in 2001. That year, in his last appearance here, Gebreselassie was beaten into second (41:38).
Running in relatively cool conditions - 6 C. at race time - but with nearly no wind, there was from the beginning just three leaders in the race: Gebreselassie, Eritrean Zersenay Tadesse, and Tessema Abshiro, another Ethiopian. Abshiro, who trains with Gebreselassie, dropped off the pace just four kilometres into the race, leaving it a two-man battle. Running nearly side-by side or front and back with Gebreselassie leading the entire way, the pair passed five kilometres in a rather slow 14:18, and 28:22 at 10 kilometres. At that point Gebrselassie pressed the pace and Tadesse was clearly in trouble. The Eritrean, running his first road race since his 59:05 half marathon win at September's Great North Run, said afterwards that he was slowed by side stitches and back pains probably brought on by the low temperatures.
Gebreselassie went on to build a 20 second victory, well ahead of Tadesse's 42:17. Finishing third was Kenyan teenager Bernard Kipyego (43:26), well ahead of Abshiro (43:40), who was fourth.
The Ethiopian legend, who ran a World best for 10 miles - 44:24 - on 4 September in Tilburg, and the fastest marathon of 2005 - 2:06:20 - at the ING Amsterdam Marathon on 16 October, was all smiles as usual afterwards.
Sharing his enthusiasm for longer races, Gebreselassie said, "I would have preferred a half marathon or a marathon, but they are not on the calender in this part of the year. I had no problems recovering after the Amsterdam marathon. I believe in active rest. So I trained well after Amsterdam."
Completing an Ethiopian sweep, Berhane Adere won the women's race comfortably in 47:48, the second fastest time of the year after the 47:45 en route performances by Kenyans Susan Chepkemei and Isabella Ochichi at the 18 September Dam tot Dam 10 mile race at Zaandam, also in The Netherlands. Kenyan Rose Cheruiyot was second in 47:48, with Ethiopian Mestawat Tufa third, in 49:00. In all, 21,350 runners started the race.
Wim van Hemert for the IAAF
1. Haile Gebrselassie (Eth) 41:57, world best 2005 (splits 5k: 14:18; 10k: 28:22)
2. Zersenay Tadesse (Eri) 42:17
3. Bernard Kipyego (Ken)43:26
4. Tessema Abshiro (Eth) 43:40
5. Jim Svenoy (Nor) 44:42
6. Koen Raymaekers (Ned) 44:42
7. Jamal Baligha (Mor) 44:43
8. Jeroen van Damme (Ned)44:45
9. David Kipngetich (Ken) 45:40
10. Christopher Isegwe (Tan) 45:42
1. Berhane Adere (Eth) 47:48 (splits: 5k: 16:02; 10k: 32:03)
2. Rose Cheruiyot (Ken) 48:00
3. Mestewat Tufa (Eth) 49:00
4. Hilda Kibet (Ken) 50:38
5. Petra Kaminkova (Cze) 51:07
6. Pauline Wangui (Ken) 51:29
7. Miranda Boonstra (Ned) 51:48
8. Kristijna Loonen (Ned) 52:12
9. Jana Klemseova (Cze) 53:08
10. Pauline Claessen (Ned)53:51
11. Merel de Knegt (Ned) 54:08
12. Anne van Schuppen (Ned) 54:12 (40+)