2008 – Haile Gebrselassie

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28-Sep-2008 – Berlin Marathon – 2:03:59 – Adidas AdiZero Adios
Date of birth: 18-Apr-1973
Nationality: Ethiopian
World Record Duration: 2 years, 11 months, 28 days

The athlete:                
The lead up to the 2008 Berlin Marathon was not without issues for Haile Gebrselassie. Calf cramps two weeks before the race had deprived him of one week of training. Gebrselassie had also pulled out of the 2008 Olympics, citing concerns that the pollution in China would exacerbate his asthma. Although he would later say he regretted the decision to skip the Olympics, he was met with perfect sunny conditions on the day of the race in Germany.

Gebrselassie put it best himself, everything was perfect. At the finish line he set yet another world record, and became the first man to break the 2:04 barrier in the marathon. Gebrselassie would continue trying to break his own record as the years progressed, but injuries began to plague him in later years. He still was able to win the Berlin Marathon again in 2009, but results were inconsistent. Despite trying to make the Ethiopian team for the 2012 Olympics, including competitive showings at the Tokyo Marathon where he finished 4th in 2:08:17, he would miss out on competing but would still act as one of the flagbearers.

By the time he retired in 2015, he had set no less than 27 world records, won eight world championships and two Olympic gold medals. He has since taken the reigns as the president of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation and become a successful businessman. These ventures have included coffee plantations and working with Hyundai on the production of electric cars in Ethiopia.

The shoes:                   

The Adidas Adios series was introduced in 1996. It was another step by Adidas to regain its foothold in the running shoe world. In 1999 Adidas hoped to take another leap forward when it hired famed shoe designer Toshiaki Omori, who brought decades of experience to the German brand.

Omori eschewed digital tools for his design, using moulds of real feet to create his shoes with an even better fit. Come 2004, Adidas put Omori onto their project to design a new series dubbed AdiZero. In 2008 Adidas was ready to launch the latest weapon in the series, the AdiZero Adios.

Using a combination of CMEVA (Compression Moulded EVA) foam and Adidas’ proprietary adiPRENE, the AdiZero Adios offered good cushioning despite weighing 210 grams. This was supported by the latest development of the Adidas Torsion system first introduced in the late 80s. This allowed the front and back of the shoe to move independently while keeping the shoe stable.

Apparently the night before the 2008 Berlin Marathon, Gebrselassie tried on prototypes of the shoe. After running up and down the hotel corridor, he decided to wear them the next day. It would turn out to be the right decision, the AdiZero Adios allowing Gebrselassie to set the first sub 2:04 marathon. 

Gebrselassie would continue to wear the AdiZero Adios until 2011, including from 2010 the colourway made to commemorate his marathon world record. In 2012, when he would run his last competitive marathon, he would upgrade to the AdiZero Adios 2, and in a colourway honouring the foundation starter by fellow legend Grete Waitz. Although he would run in the 2014 London Marathon, it was as an elite pacer.

As for his shoes from that fateful day in 2008, Adidas brought them back in identical form in 2015 as the AdiZero Japan 1. If you look around online, brand new pairs can still be found for purchase.

The Adidas Archive by Christian Habermeier and Sebastian Jäger