Monday, October 01, 2007

The Greatest

Geb sets a new world record for the marathon.

I don't think most people realize what it takes to accomplish this kind of thing.

By my calculations, that's right at 4:45 per mile, for 26 uninterupted miles with most of an extra lap of a standard track thrown in at the end. That's a pace that would cause most people's hearts to go into cardiac arrest if they attempted to run that fast for more than about 2 or 3 minutes, if they could sustain it at all. No kidding. At my best, at age 18, I could have kept up with him for about 4 miles of that race. Then I'd be toast.

Geb is the former WR holder at both the 5,000 and 10,000M on the track, resetting his own records in each, several times during the 90's, and yanking the record at 5K down so far at one point that many thought it, at the time, to be almost unreachable by any other human. That he lowered that time, to 12:44, by an almost 11 full seconds, put him in an entirely new territory. He had covered the distance faster than anyone else by about one second for each lap of the race; completely unheard of in the distance fraternity. These standards are usually lowered by a few tenths or, at most a second, perhaps two, at time. To drop it by 11 is something that hadn't happened in decades. He would later break his own record, resetting it to 12:41.

That race, ink still wet in the record book, was lowered, this time from Daniel Komen, of Kenya, who was tearing up the European track for a couple of years at the time, setting several of his own records, and the only man to ever break the 8:oo minute/2-Mile barrier. That record took Haile by surprise, I think, and he then made a concerted effort to take back both records come the '98 season, in both the 5 and 10, with Paul Tergat, also of Kenya, being the other record breaker at the 10. Needless to say, he accomplished both of these feats, within 13 days of each other. Simply amazing.

His young countryman, Kenenisa Bekele, has since broken all of Geb's track records, and at the age of only 25, seems poised to lower those standards even further. I'll be anxiously waiting to see all of his racing for the next several years.

Some have called Geb, at 34, passed his prime and washed up. He had a rather disappointing show at Athens, and was nursing a bit of an injury, but he went out to the track and ran a respectable race nonetheless, finishing fifth. But, if anyone who knows anything about running can tell you, his serious marathoning is just NOW starting to ramp up. I think he has several good years of making a crack at the 2:03 barrier, if he can keep injury-free, and maitain a restrictive race schedule that focuses on quality rather than quantity. With several world best and records in the 10 mile, One-Hour run and Half-marathon (in UNDER ONE HOUR, JEEZIS!, I'm thinking that we're in for some serious performances in the near future.

I wish him well.

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