Having already established himself as the man to watch when it comes to distance running on the track, this weekend will see Mo Farah translate that form to road running.
The Great North Run is an opportunity for the Great Britain Olympic gold medalist to make a statement of intent as he lines up alongside some of the most talented long-distance runners in the world.
One of those running is Farah’s idol, Haile Gebrselassie. In an interview with the Guardian’s James Riach, Farah stated Gebrselassie made him want to achieve his dream of becoming Olympic champion.
Speaking on his experience of watching the 2000 Sydney Games, the 30-year-old said:
I remember when I was in sixth form at school, watching the 10,000m – a big race, Ethiopia versus Kenya. As soon as the class finished we stormed out and went to the TV. I remember Haile was leading and Paul Tergat was pushing, pushing and pushing. Haile was just there and it came right to the line, we were all leaning forward and Haile stuck his chest out.
That was one of the greatest races I've ever watched and from that point I said: 'I want to be Olympic champion.’
However, the real battle for Farah to watch will be his matchup against Kenenisa Bekele, the runner who holds the world records for both the 5,000- and 10,000-meter events.
The Oregon-based athlete is slowly making his transition to the road discipline and will make his full-distance bow in 2014, where he plans to headline the London Marathon having run half the event earlier this year.
Of course, it’s the battle with Bekele that represents the real opportunity for Farah to cement his place as one of the sport’s greatest, but the opportunity to surpass one’s idol, even in their old age, is an opportunity that doesn’t often present itself.
That being said, there doesn't appear to be much bad blood between the three greats:
Farah is the reigning Olympic athlete for both the 5,000- and 10,000-meter distances, but will face a new task entirely in transforming his style to match that of the half marathon and marathon distances.
That being said, the Somalia-born sensation is in superb form, having won a gold double at this year’s World Championships in Moscow. He should certainly consider himself the favourite to wheel away with yet another title when running from Newcastle to South Shields.
The 13.1-mile distance is the best way for Farah to ease into the marathon distance, and this year’s Great North Run promises to be the most star-studded event of its kind.
While some eyes tend to wander towards the celebrity ranks running for their respective charities, Farah’s claim for marathon glory begins this weekend and is set to get off with a bang.
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