What did we learn this week?
Haile Gebrselassie is bigger than the entire New York City Marathon.
Not physically bigger–in that respect most people are bigger than he–but more famous and more important. The above video was the shocking announcement that today’s DNF at 16 miles was the end of his competitive career. The decision was apparently made in the few hours between his dropping out and the post-race press conference.
The news overshadowed the entire race. Even in the decidedly non-track-friendly American sports press, it was big. Geb’s retirement was the headline at SportsIllustrated.com over the race winners.
Geb is track’s Say Hey Willie, our Magic Johnson. Not just one of the greatest of all time, he is (by all media appearances at least) one of the friendliest and most outgoing of all time as well, and truly happy in competition. It says all you need to know about him that he waited at JFK airport for an hour to greet Chilean miner/runner Edison Pena at his arrival. (More on Pena later).
Good runners win races. Martin Bingisser is impressed at my ability to call races. On Thursday’s House of Run podcast, I said Gebre Gebremariam was my upset pick to win. And, of course, Gebremariam did win. Honestly, the running media made it easy for me to look smart because everyone ignored him. But in terms of recent accomplishments, he was probably the best runner in the race. Anyone who wins a World Cross Country Championship, as Gebremariam did 20 months ago, automatically must be considered one of the world’s best runners.