Road king Haile returns

2012-09-22 20:22

But his Two Oceans dream hinges on his fitness, as injuries have hampered his running lately

Ethiopian long-distance legend Haile Gebrselassie is expected in the country next month to begin roadshows leading to the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town next year.

The trip will be the second in 12 months since the 39-year-old veteran runner last toured these shores.

Gebrselassie has indicated his desire to run in the tradition-steeped Easter weekend marathon but his dream hinges on his fitness levels, as injuries and breathing problems have hampered his running lately.

Just last Sunday, the veteran runner withdrew from the Great North Run half-marathon in England because of a knee injury.

On his imminent visit south, the two-time Olympic champion over the 10 000m will assume his role as the ambassador of Two Oceans following the recently signed deal that saw his long-time sponsors, Adidas, take over for the next three years as the event’s technical sponsor.

The German sports apparel manufacturing firm has replaced rivals Puma.

Runner-cum-businessman Gebrselassie shares the Two Oceans ambassadorial role with the Nugrelieva twins, Elena and Olesya, who have won seven Two Oceans ultra-races between them since 2004.

Gebrselassie is only expected to lace up his running shoes for the 2014 edition.

Said the Adidas South Africa public relations manager: “We are busy with our plans for the marathon and it is exciting to have Haile on board. We are hoping that he will be here next month to help us with the promotion of the race. We will reveal full details once everything is confirmed.”

Race director Rowyn James said a runner of Gebrselassie’s status will lift the profile of the already established event which has now joined the Beijing, Berlin, Boston and London Marathons as an elite event that enjoys backing from the German sports goods maker.

“Haile has 27 world records under his belt and said he had been following the Two Oceans with keen interest. He wants to run in the marathon,” said James, adding that over 400 entries had reached the race office just four hours after opening day on Thursday.

James said they had introduced a few changes to the 56km run’s entry guide.

“Runners who have five or more medals can use their previous Two Oceans finishing times as qualifiers. And those with 10 or more ultra-races don’t need to qualify.”

Runners who don’t meet these criteria will be able to secure their places by entering first and chasing their qualifying times later, according to James.

» Entry forms can be downloaded from www.twooceansmarathon.org.za


Marathon fixtures

Tomorrow
Bainskloof Pass Ultra & Half marathons – 21.1km; 6-9km
» Huguenot High Sports Field, Boland (6am)

Friday, September 28

eThekwini Township to Township Marathon – 42.2km (Comrades qualifier)
» King Zwelithini Stadium, Umlazi (5am)

Sunday, September 30
Bonitas City2City Marathon – 50km; 10km; 21.1km
» Wanderers Club (Johannesburg) to Centurion Rugby Club (Pretoria) (6.30am)

Soweto Marathon – 42.2km
» Entries opened this week and forms are available at sport shops and Mr Price stores nationwide. Online entry forms can be found at www.entrytime.com. Entries close on October 21.

For more information, contact the Soweto Marathon organising committee on (011) 494 3366 or email info@sowetomarathon.com.


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