16 Aug

Mo Hits The Road

Following the conclusion of Mo Farah's glorious championship career on track, Chris Broadbent considers what we can expect from him in his road racing career.

Now his championship track career has come to its conclusion after a near decade of gold-plated success ended at London 2017, Mo Farah will move onto the roads to seek a new challenge.

So, what can we expect from Mo now he looks towards the marathon and half marathon for the latter part of his competitive years? We have already been given a sneak preview of two with Mo having taken part in several half marathons, most notably at the Great North Run and a single outing over the classic distance at the 2014 London Marathon.

Last year he won his third successive Great North Run, the first man ever to achieve the hat-trick feat. His best time ever over the distance is 59m 32secs, a time that places him a relatively modest 59th on the all-time list.

For his debut marathon, he finished eighth in London in 2014 in 2:08:21, a result that was largely deemed as unsuccessful, falling short of the minimum target of breaking Steve Jones' British Record of 2:07:13 in 1985.

But achieved in the midst of accruing 17 gold medals and three silver medals at Olympic, World and European level, then it’s probably unfair to judge his road record while track was the undoubted priority.

As he heads into the next phase of his career, it's worth looking at some of his predecessors and contemporaries. Ethiopians Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele were the kings of long distance track running prior to Mo with five Olympic and nine World Championship golds between them.

They both stepped up to the marathon with some success, but with not quite the same level of global domination. Gebrselassie has won in Dubai, Amsterdam and Berlin and also held the world record at one time. But he has faltered in London and New York, where he has failed to finish. Bekele has won in both Berlin and Paris, but has been beaten in Chicago and London.

Neither has won any championship marathon medals. If there are any lessons to be learned, it is that success will not come easy and there may be a few blips on the way. But a successful transition is possible.

Mo might also look to two other big names for guidance. Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge is undisputedly the world's leading marathon runner of the moment. The current Olympic champion, he also has wins in Chicago, Berlin and London on his CV.

A former 5000m world champion, he has no great record over 10k or half marathon, instead making the monumental leap to marathon success. Earlier this year, as part of the Nike Breaking2 project, he ran the marathon distance in 2:00:25, the fastest time ever, but run in favourable, pace-making and wind-protected conditions, making it ineligible to be an official world record.

Mo might also consider the case of Eritrean Zersenay Tadese, the world's best ever half marathon runner. Five times winner of the World Half Marathon Championships from 2007 to 2012, he is also the world record holder with a searing 58:23. Yet, he has never been able to extend his brilliance to the marathon despite several attempts with a comparatively modest best of 2:10:41, leaving him some way behind the likes of Kipchoge and the world's greatest marathon exponents.

It promises to be a long and winding road for the rest of Mo Farah's career, but will it be paved with gold?