Mo Farah warmed up for next month's London Marathon with victory in yesterday's inaugural Vitality Big Half Marathon. The four-time Olympic gold medallist also claimed the British Half Marathon title as he broke the tape on 61:40, three seconds ahead of Daniel Wanjiru with Callum Hawkins third a further two seconds behind.
Charlotte Purdue posted a big PB of 70:29 to take the women's title ahead of Lily Partridge and Charlotte Arter. Post-race Purdue was pleased with her 'double whammy' of a record time and the title but acknowledged that both she and Partridge are focussed on London and marathon preparation.
Although temperatures had risen in the capital from earlier in the week it was still a chilly morning as Farah, Wanjiru and Hawkins established an early gap. The pace over the first five miles was relatively modest until Farah pushed on but his rivals stayed in touch and at the 10k mark the leading trio were back together.
Now it was Hawkins turn to push as he tried to negate Farah's anticipated late turn of speed however the Olympic champion always looked comfortable and was happy to seal his 11th win at the 13.1 miles distance. Despite this being the slowest of those 11 times, Farah noted post-race that he had been very comfortable and was looking on course for a strong performance at London Marathon.
Jonny Mellor (65:03) was third in the British Half contest and like Farah is set for a strong show in London on 22 April while Callum Hawkins now has his sights on the Commonwealth Games. Tsegai Tewelde ran prominently and finished in 65:11.
The one-two in the women's race, Charlotte Purdue and Lily Partridge, are also London Marathon bound. Purdue is hoping for a big run in next month's marathon while Partridge is aiming to lower her autumn 2017 marathon debut time of 2:32:09.
A field of 12,000 christened the capital's latest major running event and they were delighted to tame The Beast from the East and get a competitive run in on a weekend where the majority of races were postponed or cancelled. The first Big Half Marathon saw big contingents of runners from Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lewisham and Greenwich who had taken advantage of ring-fenced low-cost entry.