Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie will return to the Vienna City Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on April 15th to chase down Paula Radcliffe over Half Marathon, which is staged parallel to the main event.
Similar to 2011 a chase race is arranged, but this time the opponent is a woman as Gebrselassie will compete against Radcliffe in the OMV Champions Race.
The British world marathon record holder had been announced earlier as a competitor in the half marathon. She will now start the race with a time advantage and Haile Gebrselassie will chase her.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be able to present our spectators a race of which you could only dream of. Haile running against Paula – two inspiring personalities and may be the two best runners of all times up against each other – this is something unique in the world of road running,” said a delighted Wolfgang Konrad, the Race Director of the Vienna City Marathon.
His event will feature a total of more than 33,000 runners. Entries are still possible for both the marathon and the half marathon.
Haile Gebrselassie took the race in 2011 with a course record of 60:18 minutes. He also won the chase race with the motto ‘Catch me if you can’ against the leading marathon runners, who were given a head start.
A year ago he received a tremendous reception by the spectators, politicians from the city and even the President of Austria. Mr Heinz Fischer had invited the two time Olympic 10,000 m Champion for a reception.
Haile Gebrselassie was so impressed after the weekend in Austria that he promised to come back. He does so at the very first opportunity.
After the disappointing result in the Tokyo Marathon, where Haile Gebrselassie finished fourth with 2:08:17 which is not fast enough to qualify for the Ethiopian Olympic team, there was a bit of a doubt regarding the race in Vienna.
But he decided to go ahead as planned. So the half marathon will now be his next race – and this should be an experience he will enjoy once more.
Both superstars had initially welcomed the idea of the chase race and confirmed their participation instantly. The time advantage for Paula Radcliffe will be determined nearer to the race.
She will start her race on her own while Haile Gebrselassie and the whole field will be chasing her on the way to the finish, which is located on the famous Wiener Heldenplatz – Vienna’s Hero Square.
There could hardly be a more fitting finish for the duel of two of the world’s greatest athletes.