Marathon hero Haile wished me good luck

Marathon runner Sam Gough demonstrates piggy back running with Ellen Relander
Marathon runner Sam Gough demonstrates piggy back running with Ellen Relander
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The advent of modern technology and the social media boom has made the world a smaller place.

Thanks to sites such as Twitter and Facebook it seems that today people all over the planet are only ever a just few links away from one another.

And for one Capital man training for the London Marathon this has become all too clear – after he was left stunned to receive good luck wishes out of the blue from arguably the world’s greatest ever marathon runner.

Edinburgh Fringe Society board member Sam Gough, 36, received a photo from Haile Gebrselassie, the former holder of the marathon world record, holding a sign that simply stated: “Good Luck Sam Gough”.

The chance photo came about after one of Sam’s Facebook updates, in which he suggested he and the Olympic gold medallist could run a marathon in the same time – if only they weighed the same.

Sam then cheekily noted that Haile would have to run the entire course with someone the weight of Jennifer Aniston clinging to his back.

And it seems Gebrselassie, along with lung-bursting stamina, possesses a keen sense of humour too.

Sam, from Penicuik, said: “It’s incredible really, I never for a second thought that it would come to his attention.”

He had laid down the gauntlet in his Facebook post when he said: “Haile Gebrselassie – arguably the world’s best ever marathon runner – can run the course in 2 hours and 4 minutes – but weighs 123lbs.

“I weigh 231lbs, so I would love to race him on an even playing field, my challenge for him would be to run the marathon with a 7stone 10lb pack on his back, which would be the same as running it giving Jennifer Aniston a piggy back.”

And thanks to a few friends passing it on, it quickly reached the attention of the Ethiopian marathon master.

“A friend of mine had read my post and was amused enough to pass it on to someone else who was also amused and passed it on and so on until it found someone who knew Gebrselassie, and today I received the picture,” said Sam.

“Apparently he was amused by my theory, though at this time I am unsure if this means he has accepted my challenge.”

The dad-of-two is running what will be his fourth marathon to raise funds for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.

Speaking of what is driving him to raise money for the Fringe, he added: “I’ve completed the Edinburgh marathon twice and this will be my second time doing London too.

“I first experienced the Fringe 20 years ago when I was still at school. I fell in love with the city and the Fringe. And now I not only run a Fringe venue, but I’m also on the board of the Society – and in April I’ll be pounding the streets of London to raise funds to ensure they can keep supporting the world’s greatest arts festival, making Edinburgh the place to be every August.”

If you wish to sponsor Sam you can do so at