September 28, 2008 – Haile Gebrselassie smashed the world record he set in last year’s Berlin Marathon to retain his title with an historic time of two hours three minutes and 59 seconds.
The 35-year-old Ethiopian’s performance was the first time the milestone of two hours and four minutes has been breached and easily bettered his previous mark of 2hr 4min 26sec.
Gebrselassie, who had suffered a minor injury only two weeks ago, said: “I’m so happy everything was perfect – the weather, the pacemaking and support from the spectators.”
He added: “In my last preparation over 20k a fortnight ago I ran 40 seconds faster than I did before last year’s race but then found I had a small calf problem and stopped training for a week.
“Before I came here I knew I could do something (special) in Berlin.”
In winning the title for a third successive year, Gebrselassie was aided by some excellent pacemaking until 30 kilometres. Just after 33km he and James Kwambai broke clear of the pack but the Kenyan wilted when Gebrselassie switched into top gear 6km from the finishing line.
Gebrselassie, enjoying the excellent racing conditions, never looked under pressure as he powered to the line to win the first prize of £39,000 and the same amount for his second world record at the distance.
Runner-up Kwambai easily beat his previous best by more than five minutes (2:5.36) with his fellow countryman Charles Kamathi third in 2:7.48.
Irina Mikitenko, winner of the Flora London Marathon in April, claimed the women’s title with a German record in the unofficial time of 2:19.18.
Ethiopia’s Askale Tafa took second place in 2:21.31 with Helena Kiprop of Kenya third clocking 2:25.1.