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Gebrselassie misses out on record in wet Dubai

HAILE Gebrselassie easily won the Dubai Marathon yesterday, but said steady rain throughout the race hampered his bid to claim the US$1 million bonus on offer for breaking his own world record.

Gebrselassie finished in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 29 seconds -- just 90 seconds off his record -- to win from Ethiopian compatriots Deressa Edae Chimsa (2:07.54) and Wendimu Tsige (2:08.41).

The Ethiopians dominated the women's event too, with Bezunesh Bekele Sertsu winning in 2:24:02 after pulling away from Atsede Habtamu Besuye (2:25.17) in the final stretch. Kenya's Helena Loshanyang Kirop was third (2:25.35).

"Everybody was expecting me to break the world record here, but I am very pleased with the time I ran today," said the 35-year-old Gebrselassie, who finished in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 29 seconds. "This is my best time in wet weather. It could have been much worse, but I'm really happy with the time."

Gebrselassie was on pace to challenge his world mark of 2:03:59 set last year in Berlin. But he struggled against the rain in the second half of the race, which began at dawn along Dubai's Gulf coastline.

"I saw the clouds ahead and it looked like it was going to be difficult," he said. "Sometimes it's not just about defeating time, sometimes you defeat yourself. When I saw the rain coming, I defeated myself. But it (a new record) will happen. I will come back next year."

Sertsu, who finished second last year, said the rain forced her to set a slower pace, but she had plenty left in the final stages to build her lead.

Gebrselassie said his next goal is to attempt to reclaim the half-marathon record in The Hague, Netherlands, in March. Then there's the 2012 Olympics, when he'll be about eight months short of his 40th birthday.

"There's a lot to look forward to in the future. We have the Olympic games in three years' time and before that the 2010 Dubai Marathon. If you think about stopping somewhere it's no good. You've got to think about doing more," he added.

Dubai is the world's richest marathon. The US$1 million world record bonus was in addition to the US$250,000 winner's check.


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