Former track rivals Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrselassie on Thursday took part in a morning training run at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium. The run was organised by Gebrselassie’s sponsors, security firm G4S, to inspire upcoming athletes.
The Kenyan and Ethiopian legends are role models to many across the continent. On Thursday, they said sacrifice and discipline were important for the success of any athlete.
Such has been the rivalry between the two that they were separated by the thickness of a vest when Gebrselassie won the 10,000m gold medal at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.
Their rivalry spilled onto the road with Tergat running a world record time of two hours, four minutes and 54 seconds in Berlin in 2006 with Gebrselassie lowering the mark to 2:04.26 a year later. Last year, the indefatigable Ethiopian sliced 27 seconds off his mark.
However, he failed in his latest attempt to shatter the record again in Dubai a fortnight ago clocking 2:04.53. The last time, the two raced together was at the 2007 London Marathon where Tergat finished 10th while Gebrselassie pulled out citing allergy to pollen that was on sections of the route.
“It was unfortunate that he (Gebrselassie) did not finish the race yet it was the last competitive championship we were together. But we are great friends. I have been to Ethiopia and him here and we have exchanged pleasantries all along,” said Tergat.
The marathon icons started Thursday’s session by warming up with the G4S runners who included Pauline Korikwiang, Nigerian sprinter Obinna Metu, Fanuel Kenosi (Botswana) and tennis star Zodwa Maphanga (South Africa).
Later, they had a fast run doing three laps around the Nyayo National Stadium track before ending the session with a light warm down.
“It is a high privilege to run against Haile,” said Korikwiang. Not all athletes can get this chance, I have been in Addis Ababa and Dubai with him. It helps inspire and propel me to succeed,” the former world junior cross country champion said.
Gebrselassie is worried his record is not good enough to last a year and he wants to improve on it in Berlin in September.
“It will require everything to be right. The last 10km will be paramount in me setting anew record. But we have to wait and see how the training will be,” he said. Tergat, cautioned Kenyan runners that the record was too far for now.