- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2004

Think about this: As you slept last night, ultra marathon runner Serge England-Arbona of Baltimore was sweating it out in an attempt to break the world distance record for 24 hours on the treadmill.

He should be finished by noon today at the YMCA in Towson, Md. The world record of 149.1 miles is held by Karl Graf of Germany.

Meanwhile, in Boston next weekend, distance mega-star Haile Gebrselassie will try something slightly saner. He wants to regain his world 3,000-meter record after Daniel Komen broke it with a 7:24.90 in 1998.

During his legendary career, Gebrselassie has owned at least 16 world records, has two Olympic gold medals and won nine World Championship titles. The Ethiopian has chosen the lightning-fast banked track at the Reggie Lewis Track & Field Center in Boston to stage his attempt.

“One thing is for sure: If I want to win a third gold medal at the [Olympic] 10,000 meters, I will have to work hard on my speed. A 3,000-meter indoor race is a perfect tool to test my speed,” Gebrselassie told organizers of the Adidas Boston Indoor Games. While declining to make any predictions, he added, “I am confident to run a fast race. My aim is always to do something special.”

This Boston meet is a popular way to start the journey to the Olympics later this summer. Several other athletes are coming to Boston with intentions of setting indoor world, American or national marks.

Gail Devers, three-time Olympic gold medalist, reportedly has her sights set on her own indoor U.S. record (7.74) in the 60-meter hurdles. She should be pushed hard by Melissa Morrison, 2000 Olympic bronze medalist; Miesha McKelvy-Jones, 2003 World Outdoor bronze medalist; and Anjanette Kirkland, 2001 World Indoor and Outdoor gold medalist who is returning after giving birth to a daughter in May. The four women have won 16 Olympic or World Championship medals among them.

Davis Krummenacker, reigning 800-meter World Indoor Champion, is expected to go for his own 1,000-meter U.S. record of 2:17.86 set at this meet in 2002. Also, the ever-exciting Stacy Dragila, the Olympic gold medalist, is expected to shoot for her U.S. record of 15 feet, 8.25 inches in the pole vault in an attempt to regain some momentum in her career.

Possibly the most dramatic race of the night, the women’s 5,000 meters, could end up with a world record and some family bragging rights. Derartu Tulu, Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar are expected to battle for the record of 14:47.25 by Gabriela Szabo in 1998. Tulu is a two-time Olympic gold medalist at 10,000 meters and Dibaba, her younger cousin, was 2003 World 5,000-meter champion (14:51.72).

And Joey Woody, the 2003 World Championship silver medalist in the 400-meter hurdles, has indicated he will take a shot at the 17-year-old U.S. 600-meter record of 1:15.80 by Chip Jenkins.

3x10 — The Washington area is home to three of the nation’s largest 10-milers. One is in the spring, one in the summer and one in the fall. But there was never any real connection among the three until now.

George Banker — local race historian, photographer, writer and now staff member of the Army Ten-Miler — has negotiated an agreement among directors of the three 10-milers (Cherry Blossom, Annapolis and Army) to offer champions of area races complimentary entry into the other 10-milers.

“A couple of months ago, I had a thought: What could be done to get everybody working together,” Banker said last week. “Then I was thinking about the local runners and thinking what have these events meant to them. The elites come in one year and they are gone the next, but the locals keep coming back year after year. That’s why I put that caveat about being here in the area for a year.”

The races are the 32nd Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler (April 4), the 29th Annapolis 10-Miler (Aug.29) and the 20th Army Ten-Miler (Oct.24).

“It was an easy sell to the race directors,” Banker said. “Some company may come out and say, ‘Hey, if somebody wins all three, maybe we throw some money in the pot.’”

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