When Ethiopia’s Haile Gebreselassie ran the current marathon world record 2:03:59 in Berlin 2008, he was paced through the half-marathon split by 2009 World Marathon champion Abel Kirui of Kenya in 62:03. Then, pushed by another Kenyan, James Kwambai from 32-35K after Kirui dropped away, Haile completed his record performance with a 61:56 negative split. That 62:03 from Berlin `08 is the fastest first half ever run on the way to a marathon world record. Not that people haven’t gone out in sub-62 before. Welshman Steve Jones blistered the first half in Chicago 1985 in 61:42. At the time it was the eighth fastest half-marathon ever run. But neither Jonesy, who came home in 65:33, nor anyone else who’s gone out sub-62 has ever closed strong. That’s why tomorrow’s ABN AMRO Rotterdam Marathon promises to be a real high wire act.
“It’s a risk, but a calculated risk,” said elite athlete race director Eric Brommert of his plan to send his six pacesetters out in 61:45 to 61:50 for the 31st running of the world’s second fastest marathon. (more…)