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Monday, October 01, 2007

Haile Gebrselassie World Record - the splits and pacing analysis

Breaking news: Haile Gebrselassie 2:03:59 World Record in 2008!

If you came here looking for news on Haile Gebrselassie's LATEST world record performance, the 2008 World Record in Berlin, you've come to the right place! This particular article is the analysis of his 2007 race, but we've done the same for the 2008 performance. So click HERE to be taken to an analysis of Geb's pacing in the 2008 race - on the way to a 2:03:59 time!


OK, so in yesterday's post we promised a more detailed look at the splits from the amazing World Record performance by Haile Gebrselassie in the Berlin Marathon. In case you missed it - 2:04.26!

Truth is, these are still "unofficial splits", but I suspect that the difference (if any) will be a matter of seconds, and so I think it's fair to look at them a little closely, as we wrote yesterday.

The table below shows the split times at each 5km interval, and also shows the time and pace (rounded) for that particular 5km segment. The fifth column is a projected time based on the split time at that distance point - this method is a little dodgy, because it represents a kind of "moving average", which is what makes it so tricky to calculate required times in real time.

So the sixth column is added to show the pace REQUIRED FROM THAT POINT in order to crack the world record of 2:04.55, which was held by Paul Tergat. I thought this would be a good way to illustrate how the pacing fluctuated relative to what was required for the WR (bearing in mind that standing on the start line, he had to run 2:57.6 min/km to match the world record!)

The final 2km had to be run in 6:49, a pace of 3:05/km. So by this stage, it was pretty clear that the record was on, barring disaster! Some will say it was on from the very first split, and of course it's difficult to argue with that assertion based on the numbers above. His final 2.2km were run in 6:20, which is the 29 seconds differential he eventually finished with. All in all, a magnificent piece of pace judgement! He was bang on and allowed some reserve at the end.

Looking at it a little more closely, Gebrselassie started out needing to run 2:57.6 min/km for the whole race. His first 10km put him well on course (he was 30 seconds ahead of Tergat's time at the same point in the 2003 race), and the required pace dropped slightly. From this point on, he was never out of the equation, and ended up running pretty much the same race as Tergat, eventually breaking the record by 29 seconds. The actual 'gaps' between Geb and Tergat fluctuated a little throughout the race - it was down in single figures at one point, but the pace required to crack the WR was never out of reach.

The middle period of the race, from 10 km up to about 30km is where it seemed that the record might slip away. His pace dropped to the 2:58 to 2:59 min/km range for these intervals, and he slipped closer to that world record projected time, eventually even dropping below it (based on split times to that point, which, as I've said, can be a little misleading). I must confess, I thought he had slowed too much and was going to finish in the mid 2:05's. From the television images, he looked as though he was not pushing on, but then I suppose when you have the speed of a 59-minute half marathon and a sub-27 10km (from earlier this year), you can make running 2:58 min/km look like you are in a permanent state of slowing down!

But if you look at the required pace, it never ever got out of hand. Having begun the race needing 2:57min/km to match the world record, he never had to run faster than this. He created a 'buffer' in the first 10km, which saw that required pace drop slightly. In the middle, "slower" kilometers, the required pace went back to 2:57, but then those last 10km were so good it was a procession in the final 2km. The range between the pace of his fastest 5km segment and the slowest was only 4secs/km (True, running at that speed, 4secs is significant), a study in 'constant' pacing. All in all, it's a remarkably controlled marathon world record!



gm said...

Thank you for your brightness. A pleasure read your posts. Big hug from the Basque Country.