NEW YORK, June 3 – Ethiopian athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie will make his first career start at the New York Marathon, making the November event his first major US marathon appearance, race officials said Wednesday.The 37-year-old superstar, a two-time Olympic champion and four-time world champion, won his third 10-kilometer Great Manchester Run two weeks ago.
"It has been a long dream of mine to compete in this outstanding event," said Gebrselassie. "I’m so excited about competing for the first time."
Gebrselassie, who set the world marathon record of 2hrs3mins59secs in 2008 at Berlin, made it clear he will be taking aim at the New York course record of 2:07:43 set in 2001 by countryman Tesfaye Jifar.
"My long-time friend Tesfaye Jifar has the course record in New York and with all of us in the field I believe we might be able to make it a race which can be remembered for a long time as a historical race," Gebrselassie said.
Gebrselassie has won four times in the Berlin Marathon and the past three years at Dubai. The 1996 and 2000 Olympic 10,000m champion has set 25 world records but only four of his 124 triumphs have come on US soil.
Also named Wednesday to the field for the November 7 race was Japan’s Arata Fujiawara, a two-time Tokyo Marathon runner-up who set a course record last Sunday in winning the Ottawa Marathon. No Japanese runner has ever won the New York Marathon.