Briton kicks clear of New Zealand’s Jake Robertson for victory in 1hr 6sec. Farah says he will run marathon at Tokyo Olympics ‘only if I’m good enough’
Sir Mo Farah has set his sights on breaking Steve Jones’s 32-year-old British record over 26.2 miles after confirming that he will run the London marathon in April. The announcement came after a weary Farah kicked clear of the New Zealander Jake Robertson with 250 metres remaining to win his fourth Great North Run in a row.
Farah, who retired from the track in August after winning the 5,000m at the Diamond League meeting in Zurich, also confirmed that he would remain in the United States, where he trains at the Nike Oregon Project, but could move back to the UK in the next couple of years.
The 34-year-old finished in a disappointing 2hr 8min 21sec in his only marathon in 2014 – more than a minute outside Jones’s best. But he believes that a change in training can help him go much quicker.
“I’d like Steve Jones’s mark,” he said. “In 2014 I did a lot more track because I still wanted that. Now I will forget about that and focus completely on the road. Doing long runs, tempos and just try and learn from it.
“I’m also taking ideas from other athletes, who run marathons, like Lelisa Desisa here who coaches himself. I asked: ‘What else do you have to do?’ He said it’s similar to the track but you do a certain mileage. You run consistently for two months and that’s it. I thought that sounds easy. But you have to learn from it.”
For now Farah will continue to be based in America. When asked about whether he would stay in Portland with the same coaching set up, he replied: “We have thought about coming back to the UK. I have missed the UK. But I have to put my kids first. They go to school in Portland so I have to plan ahead. But we would like to be back in the next couple of years, 100%. Go and watch my team [Arsenal] and do things I enjoy in the UK.”
However, Farah again appeared to play down his chances of running the Olympic marathon in 2020, when he will be 37. “I’ll just see what happens,” he said. “It does play on my mind: ‘Do I think I could do Tokyo?’ Only if I’m good enough, if I get there and can get a medal, then yes. I wouldn’t let my country down. I would love to represent my country, like I’ve done on the track. But it just depends on how the marathon goes. If it goes so badly, then I won’t be there, right?”
Earlier Farah had to display all of his customary grit as he nearly paid the price for a lack of training when the 13.1-mile Great North Run exploded into life after a sedate start. It was Farah who initially pushed the pace, breaking up the leading field of nine with a 4min 28sec mile just before halfway, which left only Robertson and Desisa alongside him in the leading three.
Yet when Robertson kicked hard with four miles remaining, Desisa soon fell back and Farah also struggled to stay with him, before kicking clear in sight of the finish to win in 1:00.06, with the New Zealander six seconds back.
“Jake almost got rid of me with three miles to go because I was hurting,” Farah said. “I was just hanging on and gritting my teeth. I expected him to push on but it was a great race.
“Every part of my muscles is aching now. That was really, really tough. I have never been this sore. It’s been hard to motivate myself after Zurich, after the world championships, and I haven’t done as much training.”
— Great Run (@Great_Run) September 10, 2017
In the women’s race the London marathon winner, Mary Keitany, broke away from the field early to win in 1:05.59, nearly two minutes clear of the Olympic 5,000m champion, Vivian Cheruiyot, who was second in 1:07.44. Gemma Steele was the best of the British women, finishing sixth in 1:11.32, with Lily Partridge seventh in 1:12.09.
Keitany, whose time was 20 seconds outside her personal best, said: “I am very excited that I have won again for the third time. Despite the fact it was too windy, I just tried my best.”