Two of the most iconic figures in distance running, Paula Radcliffe and Haile Gebreselassie, are preparing to directly compete against each other in the Vienna half marathon on April 15. As with the 2011 competition, a chase race has been incorporated, only this year Gebreselassie will be taking on the British world record holder.
In what is being billed as a 'catch me if you can' contest, Radcliffe will start the race with a time advantage and the Ethiopian will chase her. The 2011 competition saw Gebreselassie prevailing against leading marathon runners in the 'catch me if you can duel' as he set a new course record of 60:18.
Wolfgang Konrad, race director of the Vienna City marathon, commented: "We are absolutely thrilled to be able to present to our spectators a race of which you could only dream. Haile running against Paula - two inspiring personalities and maybe the two best runners of all time up against each other - this is something unique in the world of road running."
After seeing his prospects of featuring in the Olympic Games suffer a critical setback when finishing fourth in the Tokyo marathon, doubts arose as whether Gebreselassie would compete in Vienna. The possibility of returning to a country where he received a tremendous reception from spectators has seemingly swayed his decision however. The Ethiopian recently tweeted: "Looking forward to come back to the half marathon of Vienna and run the chase race with Paula Radcliffe on the 15th of April!"
For Radcliffe, the half marathon will be the first time in which she has competed in Austria: "I am very much looking forward to racing in Austria. It will be a very important test for me. I want to run this half marathon fast and then build on that for the Olympic Games."