today, haile gebrselassie set a new marathon world best in berlin. officially, there is no
world record for the marathon, there are only world best times, because courses are hard to compare and thus the time greatly depends on the race. berlin is as flat as a pancake, and thus this was the fourth world best accomplished in berlin (the last one was last year, also by gebrselassie).
i ran my first marathon in berlin in 1984; it was a painful disaster ending after 4:39:40; i was unable to walk down stairs for a couple of days after the race (i could do it backwards, though). back then, the world's best was 2:08:18, and i remember having discussions if and when the first runner would be able to break the 3 min/km pace, which would be a 2:06:35. this actually happened in berlin in 1998, when ronaldo da costa finished in 2:06:05.
being metric, i think about speed in min/km measurements. for a long time, my goal was to be able to run a marathon at 4 min/km pace, which is a 2:48:47 marathon. knowing that i would never get even close to 3 min/km land, i was happy when i finally got to that point. shaving off another minute per km still is something i cannot fully fathom, running this pace for more than 1km is really hard, doing 42.195 of these kilometers back to back is simply unbelievable.
today, gebrselassie posted the first sub 2:04 time, he finished in 2:03:59 (last year he did a 2:04:26). this is a 2:56 min/km pace, and i am really starting to wonder when we will see the first sub-2h marathon. this would be a 2:51 min/km pace, and i guess it is just a matter of time until somebody will do it.
the world of marathons probably looks a bit different to non-metric folks. i never got hold of the min/mile paces, i guess the 6 min/mile mark (2:37:17) is what separates the men from the boys in the non-metric world... or is it already the 7 min/mile pace (3:03:29)? anyway, what those elite runners are doing is so far beyond what mere mortals can do that it is sufficient to just watch them running to get a feeling for how fast they really are...