The news broke earlier this week that Haile Gebrselassie will be competing in the Great Birmingham Run next Sunday (formerly the Birmingham Half Marathon) after dropping out of the Berlin Marathon a few weeks ago. This is obviously exciting news for the city of Birmingham, a city with a great sporting tradition which will be honoured to host the Ethiopian legend. However, the most exciting news in my opinion is the presence of Eliud Kipchoge on the start line. As a local resident, I received a letter today outling road closures and information about the event, but I was most shocked to see Kipchoge’s name as one of the stars of the event.
For the uniniatiated, Kipchoge is a 5k specialist who won the world championships as an 18 year old 8 years ago, beating Kenenisa Bekele and Hicham El Guerrouj in stunning fashion. He has rarely raced above that distance and it will be intruiging to see how he fares over 13.1 miles. It would also be interesting to work out his intentions; is he turning his back on the 5000m, knowing that the likes of Koech, Longosiwa and the like may have the beating of him in the race to compete in Kenyan colours at next year’s Olympics? Surely it can’t signal a move to the marathon though; AK has allegedly already decided on 2 of its 3 representatives in an event that exemplifies the Kenyan strangehold on world distance running.
This is most likely just a decent payday for him. And why not. Overdistance racing is a great thing to try at the end of a season, and it will offer him a good insight into what his potential is over longer distances on the roads. He has already tested the water with a sub-27 10,000m clocking in Brussels a few weeks ago.
If he and Haile both make it to the start line this will be a great race.