Running legend Haile opens the London Marathon Expo


The 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon Expo was officially opened this morning by the running legend, and newly-crowned Guinness World Record holder, Haile Gebrselassie.

Thousands of runners are expected to follow the two-time Olympic champion down to the Excel Centre, Docklands, over the course of the next four days to collect their running numbers for the big race on Sunday 13 April.

Speaking to the waiting crowds as he cut the red ribbon, Gebrselassie said: "My advice is to run behind me on Sunday.

"It is a great honour to be opening the Virgin Money London Marathon Exhibition and it's great to be back in London. You are all very lucky to be part of this marathon."

The Ethiopian, widely regarded as the greatest distance runner of all time, has broken the marathon world record twice in his long career, becoming the first man in history to run the marathon distance in under 2 hours 4 minutes. He will continue to test himself on the iconic London course this Sunday when he runs as a pacemaker for the elite men's race.

"London has the best field ever competing on Sunday - the world marathon record holder, the world champion, the Olympic champion. It is going to be something big."

In honour of Gebrselassie's phenomenal career, Guinness World Records presented him with a certificate for the ‘Fastest run 20,000 metres', a track record he currently holds for running in just under one hour (56 minutes 25.98 seconds).

Guinness World Record editor-in-chief Craig Glenday presented Gebrselassie with the award, saying, "Haile inspires countless people to records of their own. He is an inspirational record holder."

Many of the 36,000 runners who are expected to register at the Expo this week will be in awe of Gebrselassie's many impressive records, but London Marathon race director Hugh Brasher had some words of encouragement for those who will take slightly longer than 2:04 to complete Sunday's race.

"It was great to see Haile Gebrselassie open the show today," he said. "The best way to prepare for the race is to prepare early. Get your number as early as possible, come and look around the exhibition.

"You can get a great massage down here at the Bupa clinic, and it really is important to get prepared as early as possible so you are relaxed for Sunday."

The Expo will be open until 5pm on Saturday and there is plenty to see over the next four days, with running kit stands, charities, athletics magazines and a range of health and fitness product stands all mingled together.

There will also be celebrity guest speakers at the Virgin Money London Marathon Lounge, including Paralympian David Weir, football legend Michael Owen, 2013 women's London Marathon champion Priscah Jeptoo and Olympic gold medallist Katherine Grainger.

More information can be found here:

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