London (AFP) – British track legend Mo Farah had few peers in distance championship running but he may find a few better than him on the road in Sunday’s London Marathon.
The 35-year-old — who achieved the Olympic double of 5000/10000 metres champion twice — couldn’t hope for a better send off in his second tilt at his home marathon than for Queen Elizabeth II due to press the start button from a specially erected podium at Windsor Castle.
However, with the likes of Kenya’s Olympic champion and two-time London Marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge, Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele and Kenyan defending champion Daniel Wanjiru in the field Farah will have his work cut out to make an impression.
The warm temperatures expected won’t ruffle Farah — although those ‘fun runners’ who are planning to dress up as a knight and Paddington Bear have been advised to have a rethink over the sagacity of donning those outfits — but he is realistic about his chances.
“Acceptable for me would be knowing I mixed in with the guys, I fought for it, and that I ran a personal best,” Farah told the BBC this week.
“That would be a great start for me.”
With Kipchoge expected to have a go at breaking the world record — presently 2hr 02min 57sec set by compatriot Dennis Kimetto inthe 2014 Berlin Marathon — Farah is loathe to fall into the trap of trying to keep pace.
“It’s a loaded race, so I need to make sure I don’t make any mistakes, to save as much energy as I can,” said Farah.
“It’s all new for me. I’m listening to Gary (Lough his coach and husband of women’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe) and soaking up the miles. I shouldn’t get excited too much.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if someone broke the record, because you look at the field. There are so many guys!”
The women’s race sees another Kenyan Mary Keitany favoured to repeat her victory from last year but also to complete a collection of world records.
Keitany broke British heroine Paula Radcliffe’s women-only record last year when she timed two hours, 17 minutes and one second, and also drew alongside the Briton with three wins in the race.
But the quickest that Radcliffe ever ran a marathon was when she posted a time of 2hrs 15 mins 25 secs in winning in London in 2003.
However, for much of that marathon Radcliffe was running alongside men, so the time was classified as a “mixed race” women’s world record by the International Association of Athletics Federations, who also recognise a women’s only record.
“It would mean so much to me because I’ve had Paula’s record in mind since I started my career,” said Keitany on Wednesday.
“She was an inspiration and that world record is still ahead of me as a lifetime goal. As long as I’m running I want to get it,” added the 36-year-old.