Berlin:Haile Gebrselassie said five years ago he was going to break the marathon world record.
After six failed attempts, and as people thought age might be catching up to him, the 34-year-old Ethiopian delivered on Sunday at the Berlin Marathon.
Gebrselassie raced through the German capital's flat and fast course to set his 25th world record in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 26 seconds. That lowered his good friend Paul Tergat's previous mark by 29 seconds.
Tergat was one of the first to congratulate him, calling from his native Kenya shortly after the race.
"Sorry Paul," Gebrselassie told him over the phone. "I think I had better conditions than when you ran the record. After 20 kilometres, I knew I could break the record, because I felt so good."
Gete Wami, also from Ethiopia, defended her title in the women's race in 2:23:17.
On a cool day nearly perfect for long-distance running, Gebrselassie trailed the record mark by six seconds at the halfway point, but picked up the pace over the last 10 kilometres, when he ran alone without pacemakers.
He broke into a smile as he sprinted through the giant pillars of the Brandenburg Gate in downtown Berlin, then threw his arms up in triumph as he broke the tape.
"Don't ask me how I am," said Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic 10,000-metre champion. "It's very special, spectacular."
It was the sixth time a marathon world record was set in Berlin - where Tergat set his mark in 2003.