18 Aug

The Great Showdown

Mo Farah

This year's Great North Run looks likely to be one of the most anticipated with news that Mo Farah, fresh from securing a remarkable double gold at London 2012, will be competing. Farah's participation means he will set up a mouth-watering encounter with Haile Gebrselassie on 16 September.

Even though he succeeded over 5,000 and 10,000m at the Olympics, Farah is Great Britain's fastest half-marathon performer, setting a 60:23 in last year's victory at the New York City half marathon. The expectation is that he will move up in distance as his career progresses.

Haile Gebrselassie

Gebrselassie, who is 10 years older than his British counterpart, showed little signs of age taking its toll during his imperious performance in May's Great Manchester Run, clocking a time of 27:29. The Emperor, as he is affectionately known, boasts a special affinity with the Great North Run after promising organiser Brendan Foster he would compete on the event's 30th anniversary - a race the Ethiopian subsequently won with a sub 60 performance.

Peter Riley, Bupa Great Run elite athlete manager, said he was delighted with the prospect of the contest: "I'm sure the head-to-head will be special. Who knows, with Farah expected to eventually move up to the marathon we could even see him talked about as an equal of Gebrselassie in a few years time."

Since its opening event in 1981, the Great North Run has established itself as one of the most popular half marathons in the world. The 2011 race attracted 54,000 runners and a similar number is expected this year. Entries for September's event are closed, although charity places are still available.