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Geb for Great Birmingham Run - TheEd - 12-10-2011

Ethiopian running legend and the world’s greatest ever distance runner, Haile Gebrselassie, will compete at the inaugural Bupa Great Birmingham Run on Sunday 23 October.

Gebrselassie confirmed his participation in the international half marathon race earlier this week while visiting Soweto in South Africa, where he is doing charity work for the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

The event is being organised by Nova International, organisers of the world famous Bupa Great North Run, with 54,000 competitors.

Gebrselassie, despite recently losing his world record in the BMW Berlin Marathon, still remains one of the biggest attractions for global meeting organisers, and although failing to finish in the German capital, he remains determined to qualify for his national team over the distance and take part in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

During his illustrious career, the 38-year-old , has won two Olympic 10,000m gold medals, four IAAF World Championship titles over the distance and set 26 world records in competitions ranging from 2,000m to marathon.

The African star is also no stranger to Birmingham where in the past his electrifying appearances at the National Indoor Arena have seen him break the world 2,000m, two mile and 5,000m records.

Brendan Foster, chairman of Nova and a former world record holder and Olympic medalist himself, is delighted to have attracted Gebrselassie to the inaugural meeting, which has attracted a 15,000 sell out field.

"To bring the greatest runner of all time, Haile Gebrselassie, to one of the biggest cities in the UK for the first staging of the Bupa Great Birmingham Run will be fantastic," said Foster.

"It will offer everyone taking part in what is a very large and impressive field to run with him, and I know from his popularity there in the past, a big crowd will come out to support him and all of the contestants.

"Personally I just can't wait to see Haile running in Birmingham, which is a venue very special to him. He is the number one guy in our sport and to have him running in a city where he's set world records in the past is fantastic and it would be great to see him win the race."

Foster added: "Haile is also no stranger to our meetings. He's won the Bupa Great Manchester Run on four occasions and also had a magnificent victory in his first ever Bupa Great North Run last year.

"Now he'll be running over the half marathon distance where he is a past world record holder and I'm sure he will be looking to achieve something special as we bid to make the Bupa Great Birmingham Run another major asset in our global running programme.