Haile Gebrselassie’s running career may be over

(Runner’s World) — While Sunday’s Fukuoka Marathon gave us a new champion, Joseph Gitau of Kenya, whose 2:06:58 was a personal best by nearly 15 minutes, and added two more names, Mo Trafeh and Ryan Vail, to the list of sub-2:12 Americans, the race may best be remembered for adding to the mountain of evidence that Haile Gebrselassie’s status as a threat in major international marathons has ended.

Gitau is a product of the Japanese corporate running system, representing a company called JFE Steel. His roots in Japan are deep; he attended high school in Hiroshima. As the IAAF reports, he ran from 30-K to 35-K in 14:54 and from 35K- to 40-K in 14:41 to seal his victory over Hiroyuki Horibata of Japan, who clocked 2:08:24. Henryk Szost of Poland was third in 2:08:42.

Gebrselassie is a former world record holder with a best of 2:03:59 but his most recent marathon performance was a fourth-place 2:08:47 in February. As David Monti of Race Results Weekly pointed out yesterday, Gebrselassie’s last five marathons have consisted of dropping out three times, that 2:08 earlier this year and one withdrawal before race day.

Officially, the Ethiopian turns 40 in April, though there are suspicions he’s considerably older. He made a pre-race statement that he was capable of 2:05 or 2:06 in Fukuoka if the conditions were right, but perhaps it was his condition that wasn’t. He dropped out after 32-K on Sunday, and later tweeted, “I could not lift my left leg properly anymore and I had to stop. My training went well and I had no indication of this.” He added, “I felt good and easy during the race; the pace was fine. After 25-K, my left upper leg started slowly to cramp up.” Gebrselassie assured his followers, “I will check out the problem and run another marathon, since I feel in good shape.” Perhaps, but the dropouts and disappointments are coming in bunches now.

Martin Mathathi, a Kenyan with a 58:56 half-marathon best, hoped to run under 2:07 and contend for the Fukuoka crown in his marathon debut, but he was out of the race after 38-K, reportedly in part because his final long training run had not gone well and had caused a crisis of confidence.

Mo Trafeh, who ran with the leaders early at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January before dropping out, took seventh in Fukuoka in 2:11:41, with Ryan Vail just behind in 2:11:45. Vail then tweeted that he was “sore and tired, but headed to Vietnam and Cambodia for a much needed break.”

Three athletes coached in Oregon by Jerry Schumacher, all of whom had planned to do the November 4 New York City Marathon before its cancellation, made it to Fukuoka. Tim Nelson was 12th in 2:14:09, but his teammates Simon Bairu and Brent Vaughn did not finish. Vaughn had also dropped out of the Olympic Trials Marathon in his debut at the distance.

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Former Darfur rebel group accuses Sudan of attacking its troops

KHARTOUM (AFP) — The only rebel group to have signed a peace deal with the Sudanese government on Thursday accused the army of a deadly attack which authorities then lied about.

“Yesterday, Liberation and Justice Movement forces came under attack from SAF (Sudanese Armed Forces) near El Fasher,” the rebels’ chief Eltigani Seisi said in a statement to reporters.

“Two of our troops were martyred and three were detained.”

International peacekeepers in Darfur had warned in October that implementation of the 2011 peace deal between LJM and the government had hit a deadlock, though this is the first clash reported this year between the SAF and LJM.

Seisi said two LJM vehicles had been located near El Fasher, the North Darfur state capital, for 10 days “and SAF knew very well about that”. But the vehicles still came under attack, he said.

Official media then announced the army had killed two members of the Revolutionary Front, an alliance of Sudanese rebels including Darfur’s main insurgents who refused to sign the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.

State news agency SUNA said the army captured two Revolutionary Front vehicles and rockets being prepared for an attack against El Fasher.

“It’s a lie. The troops attacked yesterday are LJM troops,” said Seisi, who is also effectively Darfur’s top official.

He heads the Darfur Regional Authority set up as a type of government body to implement the Doha deal which is backed by the African Union, United Nations and Arab League.

Seisi said LJM has been in contact with officials to stop the false information, and it has asked the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to investigate the incident.

“If this media campaign doesn’t stop it will disturb confidence in the Doha declaration,” he said.
The Sudanese government and UNAMID have repeatedly called for non-signatory rebels to join the Doha deal.

Despite the absence of those groups, there was optimism last December that the agreement with LJM — an alliance of rebel splinter factions — would be fully implemented, UNAMID’s acting head Aichatou Mindaoudou said in October.

“Today, we have to note that the process has been very slow” she said at a meeting of a commission tasked with overseeing arms control through the safe storage of the LJM’s heavy weapons, the integration of its fighters into Sudan’s armed forces, and other measures under a ceasefire.

Mindaoudou said “no progress” had been made towards these goals because the first step, the verification of the LJM’s forces and strength, had been “inconclusive”.

That impasse would hinder establishment of a secure environment, which is a prerequisite for voluntary return of Darfur’s more than one million displaced, and for effective reconstruction, she said.

At the October meeting both LJM and the government said they were committed to implementing the security arrangements.

The commission said verification must be finished by November 15, but that deadline was not met.
Ethnic rebels began their uprising against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government in 2003.

Though violence is down from its peak, various overlapping conflicts continue in the form of banditry, inter-Arab and tribal disputes as well as government-rebel clashes in the far-west region.

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Better protection for refugees in Africa

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A treaty that African nations hope will lead to the fair and humane treatment of people displaced in their own countries went into force Thursday, more than three years after it was conceived by the African Union.

Fifteen African nations have ratified the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, praised by humanitarian groups as a groundbreaking legal mechanism that binds governments to protect the rights of and to help internally displaced people. Swaziland became the fifteenth country to ratify the treaty last month, pushing it past the threshold necessary for it to have legal force.

The convention is the first treaty of its kind to focus on the protection and assistance of people displaced within their countries. It was conceived in October 2009.

Bruce Mokaya Orina of the International Committee of the Red Cross said the treaty “represents a significant step forward in the protection and assistance of internally displaced people” across Africa.

“As a legal document potentially binding all African countries – a quarter of world’s states – the treaty represents a significant step forward in the protection and assistance of internally displaced people in Africa,” said Orina.

The Norwegian Refugee Council, which praised the treaty as “a historic achievement,” puts the number of Africans internally displaced at 9.8 million. Most have fled famine, wars and other brutal conflicts in countries like Congo, Burundi, and Uganda, which until recently had millions of people in its northern territories living in camps because of the brutal insurgency of warlord Joseph Kony. But the problem of internal displacement also exists outside of Africa, in countries wracked by violence such as Mexico, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

There are almost four times as many internally displaced people as there are refugees in Africa, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. But the internally displaced, unlike refuges, do not have a special status under international law.

Humanitarian organizations hope most of Africa’s 53 states will ratify the treaty as soon as possible and that those that have already done so will pass the relevant laws in their countries to make it work. Some 37 states have signed, but not ratified, the treaty in a sign that they are committed to going all the way, the Norwegian Refugee Council said in a statement Thursday.

“The reality is that right now people are forced to flee their homes for a whole host of causes, from natural disasters such as floods and droughts, forced evictions because of development projects such as dam building or logging projects, as well as war, conflict and violence,” said Kim Mancini of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, which is part of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

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Blast in Nairobi Somali district wounds 8 people, 1 dead

(BBC) – One person has been killed and eight others wounded in a blast in a mainly Somali neighbourhood in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, police say.

A roadside bomb exploded during rush hour traffic in the Eastleigh neighbourhood on Wednesday evening, police said.

Last month, a grenade blast in Eastleigh left seven people dead.

Kenya accuses Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militant group of trying to destabilise the country.

Reuters news agency reports that its correspondent at the explosion site saw pools of blood on the ground, as the wounded were swiftly moved away.

“The explosion was caused by a roadside bomb which had been placed in a hole in the ground,” Nairobi police chief Moses Nyakwama told the AFP news agency.

“No arrests have been made yet, and investigations are already under way,” he added.

Al-Shabab has not yet commented on the blast.

Last month, Kenya accused the group of launching a grenade attack on a bus in Eastleigh, killing seven people.

The attack triggered riots in the area, as angry youths burnt and looted Somali-owned shops.

Kenya’s government has blamed al-Shabab for a spate of explosions and kidnappings on its territory.

Kenya last year sent its troops to fight al-Shabab in Somalia – they have now joined the 18,000-strong African Union (AU) force supporting the UN-backed government.

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