Running royalty will be headed to Singapore – when the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) is held on 7 December this year.
That’s because 41-year-old Ethiopian endurance athlete, Haile Gebrselaisse, who is widely regarded as the greatest long distance runner ever, will be taking part in the 10km category of this year’s SCMS race. This December will, in fact, be Haile’s first trip to the South East Asian region and he will be lining up with close to 13,000 other participants.
Has won races all over the world
Haile has won races all over the world – ranging from track and field circuits to various international running events.
These include winning the Berlin Marathon over four consecutive years from 2006 to 2009. He has also won the Amsterdam, Fukoka and Dubai Marathons. In 2010, Haile became the champion at the Dubai Marathon.
In addition, Haile has won two Olympic gold medals and four World Championship titles over the 10km distance. And in 2008, he broke the Marathon World Record in Berlin with a time of 2 hours 3 minutes and 59 seconds. (It was subsequently broken by Patrick Makau in 2011 and then Dennis Kimetto, who had clocked a time of 2 hours 2 minutes and 58 seconds at last month’s Berlin Marathon).
No plans to retire from competitive running
But despite his age though, Haile does not have any plans to retire from running yet, though. He said, “A lot of people have actually been asking about my retirement but at the moment, I am going to keep running as a competitor.”
However, Haile may be considering moving into ultras, though. He said, “I’m looking to do a 56km run in South Africa soon. I’ll try that one out, and see how I feel about taking part in longer distances of 100km and above.”
“After all, a day without running is not a day. My body needs running. I enjoy it and competing is just another aspect of it,” the elite runner added.
Haile’s Running Tips for SCMS Participants
With his wealth of experience in the competitive running scene, what are some quick tips that Haile has, for the runners taking part in the 2014 edition of Singapore’s most famous road marathon?
Said Haile, “Training is very important. I can’t emphasise on that more. Additionally, whether you run to compete and win, or to represent your country, running has to be a part of your life. You cannot do it without discipline.”
“For me, whenever you run, you have to go and not care about the weather outside. It may be hot or cold, but you cannot skip the exercise. After all, you need to adapt to the different weather conditions.”
Time difference is more challenging than temperature or altitude
But to Haile though, the temperature or the altitude is not the most challenging factors, with regards to acclimatising to a race in a new country. He said, “Contrary to popular belief, it is not the altitude or the weather that is tough for us to acclimatise to. It is actually the time difference.
“The main issue is that every hour’s difference from where I am training will require me to readjust and re-pace myself during the run,” added Haile.
Appropriate pacing is very important in races
The way that a runner paces himself or herself in a race though, depends on the distance that he or she is going to run, according to Haile.
He added that the 10km race, which he is entering at SCMS this year, is not very long, so you have to keep a very consistent and even pace, in order to do well and finish strongly.
“But for the 21km, you have a longer distance to pace yourself at different speeds,” he added. For example, running a 21km race would require runners to go slightly slower and more conservatively at the beginning and speed up towards the finishing stages of the race, so as to conserve energy and not hit the wall.
Running a marathon should not be an impulse decision
But unfortunately, many endurance runners do not seem to realise this, according to Haile – and neither do some recognize that taking part in a 42km full marathon should not be an impulse decision. In fact, many long hours of training and sacrifice are necessary to take part in, and run a marathon.
He said, “You can’t just jump in to participate in a marathon. It has to be taken very seriously and requires a lot of preparation. It is a choice that you make and it is a very tough one, so you can’t just do a little bit of running and expect to do well at the race.”
Haile will be hosting training runs and clinics closer to SCMS
Besides participating in the SCMS race itself, Haile will also be hosting training runs and clinics nearer to the SCMS, to dish out useful running tips and advice to the SCMS race participants.
Said Haile, “I’ve been told that there is a vibrant running scene in Singapore and I can’t wait to experience it for myself in early December.” The dates and times of these running clinics, will be made known to the public, as soon as they are confirmed.
Haile’s presence here is a coup for SCMS and the local running community
“Haile Gebrselassie is arguably the greatest long distance runner in modern history, so to have him grace the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore is an absolute coup not only for the event, but for everyone in the local running community,” said Chris Robb, Managing Director at Spectrum Worldwide.
Added Mr Toh Boon Yi, Chief, Strategic Development and Marketing Group, Sport Singapore, “Running alongside an Olympic Gold Medallist and World Champion will certainly excite and encourage the runners to push themselves and go the extra mile.”
Honour for Haile to be gracing the SCMS event too
For Haile, it is an honour to be gracing Singapore’s most famous road marathon race too, and he is very delighted to be a part of the SCMS this year.
He said, “Everyone I’ve spoken with has told me that the SCMS is one of the great events in Asia and I’m delighted to have chosen this race as my first running event in that part of the world.”
Sign up now for your chance to run together with Haile
Runners till have the chance to sign up for the SCMS and run with Haile. Limited slots still remain in the Marathon, Ekiden, 10km and Kids Dash categories.
To allow runners to register and run with the ‘Greatest Ever’, registration at http://marathonsingapore.com will remain open till midnight on Friday, 31 October.
Late registrations will still be accepted, with a $20 registration fee and a non-personalised race bib.