His training regime, mile after mile, day after day through the hills of his native Ethiopia is as legendary as his accomplishments on the track and road.
They have made him, by the standards of an still-impoverished nation, rich beyond his wildest imagination with a burgeoning business empire taking up an ever-increasing share of his attention. Running remains his real love, though, which is why he has made his first trip to Glasgow to take part in tomorrow's Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run.
The 40-year-old cannot yet foresee a day when he does not pace himself against the stopwatch, but the time is fast approaching when he will seek a fresh challenge.
Two decades of appearance fees, endorsement contracts and prize money have afforded him the opportunity to build two hotels in his home province of Arsi with another on the way. It is mostly conference trade for now. "But you can tell Scottish people 'come please'," Gebrselassie smiles.
It is a mini-industry which supports the locality. "Every year I want to do more, to reach more people, to work with more people," he says. "We have 80 million people and I want to connect with as many as I can. Not just 1000 or 2000. What is the best way? It's to be involved with politics."
Which might, finally, mean the conclusion of an athletics odyssey that has yielded two Olympic gold medals, 11 world titles and a variety of world records over an unparalleled range of distances from 2000 metres up to the marathon.
Ethiopia is due to hold parliamentary elections in 2015, and he will stand as a candidate and press the case for further reform.
Gebrselassie for PM? Maybe not. "I think that's a long process," he says. "You have to have your own party. I don't think that is something I want. But to be a MP, to play my part, to share my experience from being from many countries over the last 23 years. And now even in Scotland."
He comes to Glasgow with his credentials still impeccable. Three weeks ago at the Great North Run in Gateshead he produced a formidable challenge before finishing third behind the current Goliaths of distance running, Kenenisa Bekele and Mo Farah.
Many were astonished that a man of his age could still pose such a threat. "My preparations weren't to be number two or three. I was there to win the race. I tried my best. It was OK, but one of my problems right now is that I am not the Haile Gebressalsie of 10 years ago when I train. I cannot do speed work any more. After one session, I cannot train for a week because of the muscles, things like that. So instead of speed work and endurance, I'm trying to do something in between, like in aqua jogging. That seems to work. And that's still something I have in mind for the future of my athletics, to improve my speed."
Farah's improvements have the admiration of the past master. In recent days, the rumblings out of the Englishman's camp in Oregon have been of plans to chase the two-hour barrier for the marathon. The current best, set in Berlin last weekend by Kenya's Wilson Kipsang, is slower by three minutes and 23 seconds. Gebrselassie believes a sub-two hour time will be achieved - but not by Farah.
"According to my calculations, getting two hours will be 22 years away," he says. "I've looked a lot at the statistics. If you look at the world record and how the time improves, there are many reasons for it: the training; the food they eat. How they take care of themselves. The course. The drinks they take en route. The shoes they have. It's not only about the ability of the athlete."
But, as he knows, that helps.