Tue, Aug 07, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Gebrselassie wins New York City Half Marathon

AP, NEW YORK

Haile Gebrselassie holds the Ethiopian flag after winning the 2nd annual New York City Half Marathon on Sunday.

PHOTO: AP

Haile Gebrselassie already showed he can make it anywhere. He can add New York to his list.

Running in the Big Apple for the first time, the 34-year-old Ethiopian won the New York City Half Marathon in 59 minutes, 24 seconds on Sunday -- the second-fastest time in the US and his eighth win in eight half marathons.

"I was dreaming just to run in New York City. The dream has come true this morning," said Gebrselassie, probably the world's greatest distance runner. "Wow, I'm so happy."

Abdi Abdirahman of the US was second, more than a minute behind. Two-time Boston Marathon champion Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya was third in the second running of the race.

Hilda Kibet of Kenya won the women's event in 1 hour, 10 minutes, 32 seconds, outsprinting defending champion Catherine Ndereba by 1.15 seconds. Nina Rillstone of New Zealand, a surprise leader until the final 500m when the two Kenyans passed her, was 2.60 seconds back in third.

Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, emerged from Central Park after the 11km mark, along with Cheruiyot and Abdirahman. Gebrselassie and Abdirahman dropped Cheruiyot when the Kenyan went for water, and before the American knew it, he was in Gebrselassie's wake too.

"I thought I was going to recover my surge and then just maintain the pace but it wasn't that way," Abdirahman said. "I didn't give up, no way. We know Haile's the greatest, but at the same time, this is sport."

Gebrselassie didn't see it quite the same way.

"Right after the park, I just said `OK, this is my race,'" he said.

All that was left was a Sunday morning jog. He took a moment to gawk at Times Square, like any tourist would, as he breezed through, then he trotted down the West Side of Manhattan to Battery Park, occasionally looking back to see if anyone was gaining on him.

Of course, no one was, even though Abdirahman's time of 1 hour and 29 seconds was a personal best.

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