Athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie said returning to Birmingham would be ‘something special’ having achieved so much in the city during his career.
The Ethiopian superstar, known as the greatest long-distance runner of all time, will take part in the inaugural Bupa Great Birmingham Run on Sunday.
Gebrselassie is no stranger to Birmingham where in the past his electrifying appearances at the National Indoor Arena have seen him break the world 2,000m record in 1998, the 5,000m in 1999 and his demolition of the old two-mile record in 2003.
He is also a honorary graduate from the University of Birmingham.
He said: “I have achieved so much in Birmingham, I broke three world records in the city and won a championship.
“This is not indoors but it’s going to be something special for me, to come back after so many years is just fantastic, I am very excited.”
Gebrselassie said he had not seen the Birmingham course yet, but he plans to travel to the city on Friday to get familiar with the route.
He said: “I have had a very busy schedule but I am hoping to come to Birmingham on Friday to check it out. I heard it’s a very fast course and I am looking forward to it.
“I accepted the invitation to Birmingham for many reasons, including my achievements and also because of the fantastic relationship I have with the University of Birmingham where I received an honorary degree. They have done some great research.”
Gebrselassie has collaborated for years with the institution’s sports scientists to optimise his nutrition.
He was using a carbohydrate sports drink developed by the University when he set the world record for the marathon in Berlin in 2008, with a time of 2:03:59.
The 38-year old, 5ft 5in athlete, lost his Berlin record recently.
But he has won two Olympic 10,000m gold medals, set 26 world records and remains determined to compete in London at the 2012 Games.
The Birmingham race will be his first since he was forced to pull out of the Berlin Marathon last month due to a strong inflammation of his bronchial tubes.
The seasonal condition has prevented him running the London marathon since 2007, although he has won the Bupa Great Manchester Run four times and, last year, claimed his first ever Bupa Great North Run.
He said: “I am good, back to training, I am feeling great.”
Gebrselassie announced his retirement almost a year ago after pulling out of the New York marathon but he later reconsidered. He said he will not be making plans for his future retirement.
“Retirement comes by itself, you can’t plan and say it’s going to be next year or in three years. If you plan it doesn’t work out and that is the mistake athletes make.” he said.
Taking place on Sunday, October 23, the sell-out race has attracted 15,000 competitors including fun runners and world-class athletes.