BERLIN (Reuters) - Haile Gebrselassie won the Berlin marathon for the fourth straight year Sunday but the Ethiopian failed to break his own world record after fading in the warm weather toward the end of the race.
Gebrselassie, inside world record pace for more than two thirds of the race, clocked a time of 2 hours 6 minutes 8 seconds, well outside the blistering record of 2:03:59 he set in the same city in 2008.
Kenyan Francis Kiprop was second, almost a minute later, and Ethiopian Negari Terfa came in third.
“My pace was perfect. I was in record breaking pace until kilometer 33,” said Gebrselassie, who set an unofficial world record for the 30km with 1:27:49.
“I felt good but then it got warmer and then I don’t know, I went to unknown (territory).”
“If you accept the 30km world record, it’s not bad. it’s good for my collection,” the Ethiopian said with a grin.
Gebrselassie, who also broke the then world record here in 2007, and challenger Duncan Kibet, the second fastest man over the distance, set off at a quick pace.
With a group of high quality pacemakers including Luke Kibet, who won the marathon gold medal at the Osaka 2007 World athletics championships, Gebrselassie shook off Kibet at the 20km mark before the Kenyan dropped out.
But as the temperature climbed to around 20 degrees Celsius, the 36-year-old, who ran sub-three-minute times for all but one kilometer until the 35th, started to struggle.
“This was not marathon weather. I am OK but in the last few kilometers I was very tired,” he said.
“The problem started after 33 km. Maybe I pushed too much. I was trying to push but the last five kilometers I was tired and I could not push any more,” added Gebrselassie, who wants to run the marathon at the 2012 London Olympics.
“What I learned today is to break the marathon world record the temperature must be under or up to 17 degrees.”
He added: “After 33, my mind told my body, ‘This is bad’. I learned today the marathon really starts after 35 kilometers.”
Gebrselassie has twice won Olympic gold over 10,000m and won four consecutive world athletics championships gold medals over the distance.
Fellow Ethiopian Atsede Habtamu Besuye won the women’s race in a time of 2:24:47.
Editing by Kevin Fylan