StanChart Marathon: World’s Greatest Distance Runner, Haile Gebrselassie, Trains With Official Pacers

Last night, 2008 Berlin Marathon World Record Holder and adidas ambassador, Haile Gebrelassie, ran through the heart of Marina Bay – training with the official pacers of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS), for tomorrow’s race.

Haile gets mobbed by the SCMS pacers.

Haile gets mobbed by the excited SCMS pacers. (Credit: adidas)

A scenic 3km run around Marina Bay

The group comprised of Gebrelassie, about 10 fans and the SCMS pacers, who are from the Running Department. They did a scenic 3km run, which had started at the Art & Science Museum before heading in the direction of the Merlion and U-turning at the NTUC building and returning the same way that it had begun.

Haile signs the SCMS Supernova Short Sleeve Tee. (Credit: adidas)

Haile signs the SCMS Supernova Short Sleeve Tee. (Credit: adidas)

Led by adidas running ambassador Melvin Wong, the group sported the adidas SCMS licensed pack, including the Supernova Short Sleeve Tee, SCMS shorts and the SCMS Supernova Glide Boost (Limited Edition) shoe, during their run.

Pacers and runners had trouble keeping up

Even though it was an easy run for Gebrelassie, many of the official pacers and runners admitted that they had trouble keeping up. Said 45-year-old Lars Fischer, who will be a 3:45-hour pacer at SCMS, “I felt very slow when I was running with him! We are all seasoned and experienced runners, but his speed was unbelievable.”

“In the first half, I could keep up with him, but I think he was really putting the brakes on. But maybe after that, he was probably frustrated with the slow speed – and he sped up, and left us all behind,” continued Fischer, an entrepreneur.

Training run is in progress. (Credit: adidas)

Training run is in progress. (Credit: adidas)

Fischer’s personal marathon best timing is 3 hours and 32 minutes – which is more than one and a half hours slower than Gebrelassie’s, he admitted. And Fischer added, “If I could run as fast as Gebrelassie, I would be up there on the podium too – running 1km with him is still okay, but after that, I can’t maintain his pace.”

A memorable and humbling experience with Gebrelassie

However, despite the fact that he had struggled to keep up with Gebrelassie, meeting this running superstar was a very memorable experience for Fischer. He said, “Gebrelassie is a very nice guy. He’s very friendly and approachable and shakes everyone’s hand. Haile has been my idol since I started running about six years ago and he is a real running legend today.”

Haile Gebreselassie and his signed caricature (Credit: adidas).

Haile Gebreselassie and his signed caricature (Credit: adidas).

For Terence Teo, 32, the founder of Running Department, meeting Gebrelassie was a very humbling experience. He said, “It was an honour to see him. I think he is an inspiration to everyone. When he arrived, it felt like meeting k-pop bands – the moment he arrived, everyone whipped out their camera and tried to snap photos of him. It was amazing.”

“It is probably once in a lifetime that you have the chance to meet someone like Haile and getting a great photo together with him was probably one of my best running moments ever,” Teo added.

Managed to strike up a conversation with the running legend

It's photo time! (Credit: adidas).

It’s photo time! (Credit: adidas).

A few runners such as Gerrard Lin, 31, a freelance fitness instructor, managed to strike up a conversation with Gebrelassie during the run. Said Lin, who is more commonly known as Ah Siao and will be taking part in the Full Marathon at SCMS, “We talked about coffee and I asked him why Ethiopian coffee is better than Starbucks, and he said that Starbucks is all sweet and everything. But after that he just ran off because he was so much faster than me.”

A dream comes true

“But it was still amazing. It was a short but pleasant run and I really hope that I get to see him again soon,” Ah Siao continued.

Added Fischer, “It was really a dream come true for me. I was honoured to be part of this opportunity and it will be a memory for ever.”

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