The World's greatest ever distance runner, Haile Gebrselassie yesterday won the Bupa GReat North Run on his debut in the race, marking the half marathon's 30th anniversary with a rock-solid performance. The superstar destroyed the opposition in the world's biggest half marathon, on the course from Newcastle to South Shields.
Gebrselassie got off to a fast start, ignited even more when Jaouad Gharib dashed to the front and opened a 20 metres lead just after one mile. Haile came back to regain control around halfway, cruising to victory in an impressive time of 59 minutes 33 seconds.
A leading pack was quickly established after one mile, with Gharib, Gebrselassie, Kimutai and Dathan Ritzenhein breaking clear of the field. There was plenty of jostling between the quartet, before Kimutai, holder of the Kenyan One Hour record, put in a telling burst after three-and-a-half miles.
Only Gebrselassie responded and the pair stayed together until the "Emperor" surged forward between 6 and 7 miles, leaving Kimutai taking second place, with Gharib behind in third, repeating their positions of last year's race.
Gebrselassie, who pulled out of his debut in the Great North Run in 2000 due to injury, confessed he was delighted to finally take part in the race, after making a promise to the race chairman, Brendan Foster ten years ago.
"This is the Great North Run, it is so big and wonderful and it is good to be part of its history," said the 37-year-old. "It's nice to have won over a historical course and a race which has been running for 30 years."
Berhane Adere, also of Ethiopia, took the ladies title, mirroring her win in 2005. She also scored a dominant victory, ahead of the Portuguese pair of Ana Dulce Felix and Marisa Barros in a time of 68min 49sec.
Before the first mile was completed, Adere, Felix, Barros, her colleague Sara Moreira and British hope Mara Yamauchi had broken clear. They stayed together until eight miles when Felix pushed ahead accompanied by Adere and Barros, although the latter quickly drifted slightly off the pace. Adere and Felix fought a cat and mouse duel until the former World Half Marathon champion finally managed to get clear and motor quickly to another success with two miles of the race remaining.
"It was a good race to win and for a second time," said 37-year-old Adere. "I was tested hard by Felix but finally managed to pull away. I know the course well having ran here several times and always felt in control. But she did make it hard for me."
More than 54,000 runners took part in the race yesterday, with the race started by local celebrity, Ant and Dec. It was a fun occasion for all involved in the iconic race, with many running to raise money for charity. Next year's race date has already been set for Soptember 18 2011.
Well done to everyone who took part in the race, Tell us your experiences of it in our comments section below. Full results are available here.