Legendary Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie admitted that even with all of his experience he was excited ahead of his participation in the 10km race as part of the Jerusalem Marathon on Friday.
Around 4,000 runners from abroad are expected to take part in the day’s races, with 35,000 people in all to participate in the different events.
One of those runners will be 44-year-old Gebrselassie who is regarded as one of the greatest long-distance runners in history.
Gebrselassie is a two-time Olympic champion in the 10,000-meters, while also winning the world title in that distance on four different occasions.
Gebrselassie announced his retirement from competitive running in May 2015, a career during which he set 27 world records.
“I’m happy to be in Jerusalem and I can’t believe this is my first time here,” said Gebrselassie on Thursday after going on a practice run with mayor Nir Barkat.
The route of the full marathon will begin between the Knesset and Israel Museum, looping around the Givat Ram campus of Hebrew University and through several neighborhoods on the way up to Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus.
The route then descends to the Old City, taking runners through Jaffa Gate and the Armenian Quarter and out through Zion Gate, before ending in Sacher Park.
“The fact that Haile Gebrselassie chose to come to Israel for the first time in order to participate in the marathon is a testimony to the strength of Jerusalem and the international prestige of the marathon,” added Barkat.