The night before I was to meet Haile Gebrselassie, I was a little uncertain about what I might talk to him about. It was a great opportunity for sure and I respect the man immensely for his endless achievements. But I didn’t get the kind of a feel that I did when I was to meet Nitin Rawat or Scott Jurek, where I was waking up in the middle of the night and writing down the questions that I would ask. I finally realised that the reason was that as a recreational runner there was nothing different to ask him and it would only be a small variation over what I have mostly read about him. So, I decided to wing it.
It might seem like a fun thing. Let’s just go into the interview and see what happens but believe me, nothing can make you more nervous than sitting across someone as accomplished as Haile Gebrselassie and using umm… and err… as punctuation and conjunction.
But I am so thankful that I did. The conversation took a most unexpected turn when we started speaking about my blog instead of him (which would never have happened if I had prepared a set of questions). And subsequently about his wife and family. That’s when I discovered how passionate he is about women’s fitness.
He spoke about how his wife runs around 6-8km and goes to the gym almost everyday to stay fit. And how her well being and moods determine the family’s moods. They have 4 kids and his wife doesn’t look a day older than his eldest daughter who’s 19 years old now. He comes from Ethiopia and the country is much worse off than India and women continue to struggle to make their mark. Considering that the world’s best marathoners belong to that country one would think at least running might be a part of the routine of most women there. But apparently not. He said with running revolution taking over his country only recently, women are feeling more empowered. Similar to Pinkathon here which is an all-women’s run, they have Great Ethiopian Run where about 14,000 women participate every year.
And since he has a fun and lighter side to him, he joked about how his wife complains about her hair getting spoiled after every run and I couldn’t agree more. While I love my runs and workout, I could completely relate to it.
I truly have come to believe that there is nothing more important than taking care of your mind, body and soul for you to be able to do anything for others’. It was an honor to meet the running legend and he assured me that I’m on the right path with my blog and vision. And I couldn’t have asked for more.