The Fall marathon season kicks off in Berlin Sunday morning with both world record holders on the line anxious to prove themselves ready for the run up to next year’s Olympic Marathon in London. With Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie and England’s Paula Radcliffe sharing top billing, it marks only the third time in history that both the men’s and women’s world record holder will compete on the same day. In 1989 Belayneh Densimo of Ethiopia and Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway ran in New York City, and in 2005 Kenya’s Paul Tergat joined Paula Radcliffe in London.
Sunday in Berlin, both record holders arrive with questions and high hopes. The oft-injured Radcliffe is returning to marathon competition for the first time since finishing fourth in ING New York City Marathon in 2009 where she was compromised with tendinitis in her knee. In the mean time she has given birth to her second child, son Raphael, and then had to overcome post-partum hyperthyroidism and a bad disc in her back. Haile Gebrselassie is making his first return to the distance since dropping out in New York City last November in mile, also due to a knee injury. Though he rashly announced his retirement in the aftermath, Haille quickly reversed his decision, and even signed up for the February 2011 Tokyo Marathon. Another knee problem in training, however, forced him to withdraw. But he comes to Berlin with his old smiling countenance and good cheer, a sign he is in form.
This will be Radcliffe’s first go over the swift Berlin layout, while Haile has won four times in the German capital, and set two world records there, as well. (more…)