On Sept. 15 three of the world’s top male long-distance runners squared off on rainy half-marathon course in Newcastle. It was a hell of a finish. Video is below (watch it!), but here’s some stage-setting.
Mo Farah is the current 5k and 10k Olympic (2012) and World Champion (2013). Kenenisa Bekele is the 5k and 10k world-record holder and former Olympic double champion (2008). Farah hasn’t lost at 5k or 10k since finishing .26s behind Ibrahim Jelian in the 2011 World Championships. I can only find one race where these two have faced off, the 2012 Olympics in which Farah out-kicked the field in impressive fashion, leaving the Bekele to finish 4th. Bekele’s been nursing calf and foot problems in past 3 or so years and so we haven’t seen him in top form since 2009ish. From the looks of it, he’s back now.
Farah and Bekele are both transitioning to the marathon distance, and The Great North Run was both of their debut at the half-marathon distance. To add to the drama they were up against former marathon world record holder and 58:55 half-marathoner Haile Gebrselassie– who apparently told Farah to forgo the transition to the marathon. Gebrselassie’s record 2:03:59 in 2008 fell in 2011 when Patrick Makau ran 2:03:38. A couple weeks ago Wilson Kipsang ran 2:03:23. All three records were set at the Berlin Marathon. Farah and Bekele are 30 and 31, Gebrselassie is 40.
In the 5k and 10k Farah is known for his endurance and finishing kick, he’ll push the pace and then take off with as much as 600m to go, burying the field. This is relevant, because watch:
You can also skip back in the video to watch Priscah Jeptoo try for Paula Radcliffe’s women’s half-marathon record.
These runners are seriously impressive. For perspective, Farah’s 60:10 is the fastest half-marathon ever by a Brit and works out to 4:35/mile or 2:51/km. That’s about 21kph. (Right? He ran 21.1km in 60:10) That’s a brisk bike ride- or a fast one if you ride an MTB like me.
- Bekele fights off Farah in thriller (bbc.co.uk)
- Great North Run 2013 in pictures (bbc.co.uk)
- Mo Farah honoured to line up with his hero Haile Gebrselassie (theguardian.com)