The New York Road Runners CEO was shocked when she heard of the great marathoner’s retirement.
Mary Wittenberg never leaves the finish line of the marathon on race day, but when she heard about the surprise announcement made by marathon world-record holder Gebrselessie, she ran over to the press area. “I heard that our great champion and dear friend was retiring. So I ran over. I’ve never left our course before. And I’m very happy I’m a runner because I literally ran over to the Sheraton and had a good talk with Haile,” she said.
Wittenberg spent years trying to get Gebrselassie, who dropped out of the marathon on Sunday at the 16-mile mark, to race New York. When she met with him after his announcement, she offered him her support. ”I said be disappointed about the day. You worked really hard and you should be, understandable. Maybe reserve judgment on the whole big future….This is the kind of athlete that when you’ve performed to the highest of highs, he may very well decide that it’s enough. But I think with reflection — actually, it’s really up to him, obviously. But in some ways maybe a good thing’s enough at some point. But I’m not sure we’re at that point with Haile, because it was going really well. And a knee injury with two weeks to go happens to mere mortals, you know.”
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