“What have you done?” they ask Haile Gebrselassie, one of the greatest distance runners ever. The Ethiopian proudly says, “I won an Olympics gold and even the World Championships.”
“But you haven’t won a marathon,” they remind. That is when Gebrselassie realised that international recognition wasn’t enough. In marathon glory lay the honour of the people. In 2002, Gebrselassie came third in the London Marathon before finally winning the event in Amsterdam (2:06:20). “This time I could tell them that I won the marathon,” beamed Gebrselassie, who is in the city to encourage young runners. Gebrselassie is the event ambassador for the 10th edition of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.
Even today, the 39-year-old starts his day at 5.30am and goes for a run. “The run is like a bath for my mind and sweat is the water they need for the bath. You are so alive and fresh after a good run that your whole day goes good,” he said. What keeps him going? “Win over yourself, that’s the most important lesson in life. Surprise yourself of what you can do. Run as a runner and not as a competition. For me running is an addiction.”
He signed off with a promise, “Even when I turn 70, I’ll still be running.”