DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Haile Gebrselassie easily won the Dubai Marathon on Friday, but said steady rain throughout the race hampered his bid to claim the $1 million bonus on offer for breaking his own world record.
Gebrselassie finished in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 29 seconds — just 90 seconds off his record — to narrowly beat compatriots Deressa Edae Chimsa (2:07.54) and Wendimu Tsige (2:08.41). In results for Dubai Marathon 2009
The Ethiopians also dominated the women’s marathon event, with Bezunesh Bekele Sertsu winning in 2:24:02 after pulling away from countrywoman Atsede Habtamu Besuye (2:25.17) in the final stretch. Kenya’s Helena Loshanyang Kirop was third (2:25.35).
“Everybody was expecting me to break the world record here, but I am very pleased with the time I ran today,” said the 35-year-old Gebrselassie. “This is my best time in wet weather. It could have been much worse, but I’m really happy with the time.”
Gebrselassie was on pace to challenge his world mark of 2:03:59 set last year in Berlin. But he struggled against the rain in the second half of the race, which began at dawn along Dubai’s Gulf coastline.
“I saw the clouds ahead and it looked like it was going to be difficult,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not just about defeating time, sometimes you defeat yourself. When I saw the rain coming, I defeated myself. But it (a new record) will happen. I will come back next year.”
Sertsu, who finished second last year in Dubai, said the rain forced her to set a slower pace, but she had plenty left in the final stages to build her lead.
“Today was definitely one of the best races I’ve run,” said the 25-year-old.
Gebrselassie said his next goal is to attempt to reclaim the half-marathon record in The Hague, Netherlands, in March. Then there’s the 2012 Olympics, when he’ll be about eight months short of his 40th birthday.
“There’s a lot to look forward to in the future. We have the Olympic games in three years’ time and before that the 2010 Dubai Marathon. If you think about stopping somewhere it’s no good. You’ve got to think about doing more,” he added.
“If you set a date to retire; if you say you’re going to retire in two years’ time, you actually end up retiring at that very moment. So, I haven’t put any time (on retirement).”
Dubai is the world’s richest marathon. The $1 million world record bonus was in addition to the $250,000 winner’s check