Long Distance Legend, Haile Gebrselassie, in Singapore for the 2014 StanChart Marathon

Haile Gebrselassie is in town.

Haile Gebrselassie is in town.

The world’s greatest distance runner, Haile Gebrselassie, is excited about being in Singapore – and running on our shores for the first time, in the 10km race category at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS).

Said Gebrselassie, “I am looking forward to running on Sunday. It’s amazing to have more than 53,000 people running together. It’s like the whole city is running at the same time.”

Not looking to set any records in Singapore

However, the two-time 10,000m Olympic Gold Medallist does not foresee himself as setting any records in Singapore though, primarily due to his unfamiliarity with running here.

He said, “I have never ran this course and I have never been in this weather, so I do not mind any finishing time. I will be one of those runners going for the race just to enjoy myself and soaking up the scenery.”

Has already fallen in love with Singapore

Indeed, in the short amount of time that he has been here, Gebrselassie has already fallen in love with Singapore – and hopes to return someday. He said, “I hope to see more of Singapore. This is a place that I have to come back to, not for running, but to simply relax.”

Of course, Gebrselassie added that this includes eating more of our chilli crab too. He said that the spicy flavour resonates well with him, because there is plenty of spicy food in Ethiopia, where he lives.

Your elite runners for SCMS 2014.

Your elite runners for SCMS 2014.

At an SCMS pre-race press conference

Gebrselassie was at an SCMS pre-race press conference together with other elite runners from around the world. These are Kenneth Mungara from Kenya, Nicholas Kemboi of Qatar, Kenya’s Jairus Chanchima Ondora and Ayelu Lemma, an Ethiopian.

Like Gebrselassie, these other elite runners are all looking forward to running in the SCMS on Sunday – but of course, they have victory in mind too. Said Lemma, through a translator, “I’m happy to be back here in Singapore. And I’m hoping to win the race this time. But it’s hard to predict because of the hot weather.” She came second in her previous attempt at SCMS, back in 2010.

Singaporean Mok Ying Ren hopes to build his running confidence back

Singapore’s fastest marathoner, Mok Ying Ren was also amongst the elite runners at the press conference. Following his shin injury in June, Mok hopes to use the SCMS race to build his running confidence back – for more projects such as the South East Asian (SEA) Games next year and qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Said Mok, “The last six months after my injury have really been a challenge. So I am trying not to look back. I just want to look forward and to plan my schedule for next year and just keep thinking positively.”

Gebrselassie does some practise for SCMS on Sunday!

Gebrselassie does some practice for SCMS on Sunday!

Quietly confident of his chances of Olympics qualification

The Singaporean runner is still quietly confident of his chances of becoming Singapore’s first Olympic marathoner.

But Mok said, “Long distance running requires a lot of patience and base building. The best thing to happen to a runner, is when there are no injuries and you can really build your base over time – so your timings will drop drastically and that is very rewarding.”

Haile Gebrselassie is his inspiration

Mok admitted that he definitely looks at Gebrselassie for inspiration though, when things are not going so well in terms of his own running. He said, “I’m humbled and honoured to be amongst some of the best international marathoners here today, especially with the great emperor Haile Gebrselassie.”

“We all have the same goals to inspire others to run. In Singapore, running is one of the best ways to get fit and healthy. I also think that it’s very important that Gebrselassie looks at running as a lifestyle and integrates sports into life. That makes running more enjoyable and it is one of the biggest takeaways from today.”

With Haile Gebrselassie (right) and top Singaporean runner, Mok Ying Ren (left).

With Haile Gebrselassie (right) and top Singaporean runner, Mok Ying Ren (left).

Gebrselassie simply enjoys his running

Indeed, Gebrselassie always makes it a point to simply enjoy his running, rather than constantly being stressed out over timings – and in fact, this is what he advises runners to do too.

Said Gebrselassie, “Just relax and enjoy the run. And if you can’t finish the marathon within say, four hours, then look towards completing it in five hours, and then six hours, and so on, till you actually reach the finishing line. After all you have the whole morning to run the race.”

A carb-heavy breakfast and sufficient hydration are important for a marathon

He also added that a carb-heavy breakfast is very important for marathoners, as well as taking in sufficient hydration and additional energy throughout the race, in order to last the distance.

Sunday will be an exciting morning

Said Chris Robb, Chief Executive Officer, Spectrum Worldwide, “We are very glad to welcome Haile Gebrselassie and the other elite athletes to Singapore. I’m sure it will be an exciting morning and we can’t wait to witness the legendary Gebrselassie running alongside our local runners.”

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