Mo races into unknown territory

Tue Apr 8, 2014 11:08am EDT
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By Mitch Phillips

LONDON (Reuters) - Like many of the 30,000 who will toe the line at the London Marathon on Sunday, Mo Farah will do so with a certain amount of trepidation, vowing to follow the amateur's mantra of "respect the distance, be patient and see where it takes me".

Farah's ultimate target, however, is some way removed from the rest of the field as, in his first crack at the revered 26.2 mile distance, he is planning to take on and beat one of the best elite fields ever assembled.

Four of the 10 fastest men ever - seven of the top 20 - including 2.03.23 world record holder and 2012 London winner Wilson Kipsang, will race at a pace that Farah hopes, but is not yet certain, he can live with.

"It's completely different, track to road," the world and Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 meters champion told a Tuesday news conference held in the shadow of Tower Bridge, the iconic halfway mark of the race.

"When I'm training normally I know I can do reps of 5km or whatever it is but for the marathon it's so much harder as you just don't run those distances very often.

"But I've learned a lot and am really looking forward to it. Now is the time to test myself and find out if I'm good at it or not."

"Good", of course, is a relative term for a man with a sound claim to be Britain's greatest-ever athlete. Such is the progress he has made over the last four years, with his superlative distance double among the highlights of the London Olympics, that expectation levels among the public have rocketed.

Farah gave them a taster a year ago when he ran the first half of the London Marathon in a bid to gain some experience and familiarize himself with the course and logistics of the race.   Continued...

Britain's double Olympic champion Mo Farah poses with his Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) medal, after being presented with it by Prince Charles during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London June 28, 2013. REUTERS/John Stillwell/pool