23 OCT 2011 General News Birmingham, UK

Gebrselassie returns to winning ways with commanding Half Marathon performance in Birmingham

Another Manchester 10Km victory for Haile Gebrselassie - 2011 (Mark Shearman)Another Manchester 10Km victory for Haile Gebrselassie - 2011 (Mark Shearman) © Copyright

After dropping out of last month's BMW Berlin Marathon, Haile Gebrselassie bounced back to winning form with a runaway victory at the Bupa Great Birmingham Run Half Marathon on Sunday (23).


Content in the early stages to follow a sedate pace set by Essa Rashed, Gebrselassie turned on the power between miles seven and eight to break clear for an untroubled success in a time of 1:01:29.


The legendary Ethiopian sealed the victory at that point when inserting a speedy one mile split of 4:23 before getting progressively quicker and opening  a massive gap ahead of Rashed and the remainder of the field who were already well behind him and the Qatari athlete.


Rashed, third in last month's Great Scottish Run when setting a personal best of 1:02:10, battled on to finish runner up in 1:02:28 while Morocco's Abderrahime Bouramdane, fourth in last month's IAAF World Championships Marathon, was third clocking 1:03:57.


Showing no signs of the breathing problems which caused his demise in Berlin, Gebrselassie poured on the pace relentlessly in the final few miles although admitting he had found it difficult when encountering a particularly steep hill towards the end.


"It was a fantastic race for me except for the wind and it was really hard between 11 and 12 miles," Gebrselassie said. "It reminded me of where I do my training back home in Addis Ababa." Gebrselassie's next outing over the longer distance will be an February's Tokyo Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.


"The last part of the race was a bit windy and I was almost crying going up that hill which was very tough," Gebrselassie said, his globally famous big smile firmly back on his face.  


The holder of 26 World records added: "This helps me in my preparations for next year's Olympic Games where of course I still have to get the qualifying standard.  That means to get one of the three places in the Ethiopian team I will have to run around 2:05. I am totally focused on getting the qualifier. Today was kind of a training run towards doing that. The three fastest will go to London."


Unperturbed about his chances, Gebrselassie insisted: "In athletics sometimes you win, sometimes it doesn't happen. I have to accept everything, win or lose. I felt good today because psychologically it was good winning after Berlin."


Steel improves to 1:12:21 to take women's race


Gemma Steel added to her growing reputation when adding Louise Damen to the list of the top British women she has beaten this year when also flying to a lifetime best mark of 1:12:21.


Steel, who this year has finished ahead of both World record holder Paula Radcliffe and another Olympic Marathon hopeful Jo Pavey in high profile 10 kilometre British races in London and Sheffield during the best year of her career, went solo after three miles.


The reigning UK Half Marathon champion powered on the pace in the second half of the race, and was rewarded by lowering the personal best of 1:13:42 she set on that occasion in Bristol last month, with another eye catching display.


"It was tough out there on my own but I managed to get there in the end," said Steel, although initially having the company of a few male runners in the mixed race which attracted an entry of 15,000 runners.


"I train on hills and love them but after 11 miles that one hurt me. I've done myself justice today having ran a personal best. The sky's the limit at the moment and everything's going in the right direction."


Damen, who already qualified for the 2012 London Olympics after gaining the qualifier at the London Marathon in April, came into the race with heavy legs after a high volume training routine as she prepares for next month's Yokohoma Women's Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, where aiming to again impress UK Athletics selectors she hopes to improve her PB of 2:30:00.


"I've lots of training in my legs as I get ready for that, so I didn't really know what to expect," she said after finishing in 1:13:51 with Lucy MacAlister third in 1:15:30.


David Martin for the IAAF


Leading Results:


MEN -

1. H Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) 1:01:29

2. E Rashed (Qatar) 1:02:28

3. A Bouramdane (Morocco) 1:03:57

4. J-M Martinez (Spain) 1:04:46

5. A Annani (Morocco) 1:05:19

6. J Pepper (GB) 1:05:32

7. D Griffiths (GB) 1:05:40

8. J Kelai (Kenya) 1:06:00

9. J Lilly (GB) 1:06:13

10. M Ionescu (Romania) 1:06:29

WOMEN (All GBR) -

1. G Steel 1:12:21

2. L Damen 1:13:51

3. L MacAlister 1:15:30

4. E D'Alton 1:18:49

5. A Granger 1:20:13

6. F Milton 1:20:59

7. C Taylor 1:21:46

8. P Taylor 1:22:30

9. P Gowing 1:23:41

10. E Egan 1:24:04