At 41 years young, Haile Gebrselassie still has plenty of ambitions to fulfil, but the Ethiopian has been told he will have to fight to defend his title at the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, in Glasgow on Sunday (5).
Twelve months ago, the two-time Olympic champion claimed his latest world best in the British city when stealing away the M40 record at the half marathon with a victorious time of 1:01:09.
A repeat performance would be gratefully received. “We shall see,” Gebrselassie smiled. “I’ve only been training again for five weeks so I am going out to enjoy the race and I will see how I go.”
However the track legend has been promised a run for his money on his return to Glasgow by two rivals who have shone on their previous outing here.
Michael Shelley of Australia and Kenya’s Stephen Chemlany claimed gold and silver when the Commonwealth Games were staged in the city in July and will chase a similar return amid an elite field that also includes Stephen Mokoka of South Africa and Kenyan Mark Kiptoo.
And Shelley admits it is surreal to return to the scene of his finest hour.
“I was out for a training run and the lines were still on the road,” the Queenslander said. “It brought back a lot of the memories from the Games. That was just an incredible feeling when I came up to the finish. I just didn’t expect to be there with the gold so it’s nice I’ve got a chance to take it in this time and hopefully do well again, even against Haile.”
Olympic champion faces world champion in women’s race
Olympic marathon champion Tiki Gelana, fresh from coming third at the recent Great North Run in Newcastle, will likely face off with two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat in the women’s race with the Ethiopian starting her personal countdown towards the 2016 Olympics.
“I am now preparing for Rio,” she confirmed. “That is what I am thinking about now, defending my title. But there will be a lot of work to get ready, starting here.”
However there will be a strong domestic field looking to make their own impression with Susan Partridge, who was 10th in the marathon at last year’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow, facing evergreen veteran Hayley Haining and 22-year-old British international Beth Potter, who is making her debut at the distance.
“I just thought it would be good fun, especially to run in Glasgow,” said Potter. “I've not done any specific preparation so it’s going to be a useful run out. I’m still pretty fit from the summer, things haven’t been going too badly lately but it will be a useful test.”
Mark Woods for the IAAF