DON’T GIVE UP THE TRACK, MO
STEVE SMYTHE THINKS MO FARAH IS PREMATURE IN CALLING IT A DAY ON THE TRACK
IGET that Mo Farah may need a change of scene and that it would be good to have a break from the track and I understand there are huge financial reasons to run marathons but his track retirement does not make sense athletically to many seasoned observers of the sport.
Despite his London 5000m loss, Farah is still the world’s top track endurance runner and is still more than capable of running much faster over both 5000m and 10,000m.
He retires as just the all-time 16th fastest 10,000m runner and the 31st quickest 5000m one which is a poor reflection of the worth of the world’s most dominant championships performer in history.
Yes, the gap closed this year but it was never wide anyway. His 10 global titles have been won by an average of half a second. If it was not for a gruelling 10,000m in London, he would have probably have won the 5000m.
The world’s greatest runners generally have kept going until they are beaten and a new athlete is the world No.1. I cannot recall an athlete bowing out at the top in such a way to focus exclusively on the road.
Farah has not even scratched the surface of what he was capable of, runners usually call it a day as their powers wane, and they know PBs are in the distant past.
While he understandably has focused on winning major titles at an unparalleled level, I cannot recall any race where he has fulfilled his potential from a time perspective apart from a couple of races at 1500m.
His 5000m and 10,000m PBs came in his breakthrough year at 2011, he was in even better shape in the following years, and he could certainly run 12:45 and 26:30 in the right race in the right conditions if he can run 26:49 in a stop-and-start championship race.
His speed is not notably diminishing. He ran his 3000m PB in 2016 and ran a 3:28.93 1500m in 2015. A 26:49 10,000m does not suggest a man well past his best.
I would like to have seen him have one more year on the track – gone for the European 1500m title and chased PBs and improved those British records – certainly at 3000m and 5000m.
It does not make sense to me even if he is focusing on road running, that he will not run another track race.
He prepared for 5000m and 10,000m with the occasional 1500m and should be doing likewise with shorter track races when he moves up.
To run well at the marathon, you still need good track speed. In the past, most runners have run their best marathons while in their best 10,000m shape. Often runners who focus too much on marathon training get slower at the marathon, not faster.
His coach Alberto Salazar ran his best marathon of 2:08:51, the year he ran his best 10,000m, of 27:25.61.
Paula Radcliffe also had her best track season after she started marathon racing in 2002 and while she was not as sharp in 2005 when she won her world title, she warmed up with a 10,000m World Championships ninth place a few days earlier.
Even if he does not contest a championship again, surely the odd 5km or 25-lapper would help his marathon speed?
Farah has proved with his Great North Run successes from earlier years, that you can mix the two.
I do not think Farah’s long stride is suitable for 26.2 miles but I am fairly sure he will break the British record and uniquely hold national records from 1500m to marathon, but I argue he will run a quicker marathon if he runs some track!
He will be sadly missed and the UK media will surely notice his absence come the start of the Doha 10,000m in 2019.
If Farah does not run on the track again, he retires as easily the most successful British global competitor of all time and one of the world’s greatest distance runners of all-time.
Certainly, he is the best ever in winning titles at both 5000m and 10,000m. Some critics will point to his small winning margins and lack of records and the fact he lacks the same mastery on road to match Haile Gebrselassie and on the country to match Kenenisa Bekele, who also both set groundbreaking records at both distances as well as dominating championship 10,000m races.
It is worth noting though that Gebrselassie never won a world or
Olympic 5000m title and Farah won five!
WORLD’S TOP DISTANCE RUNNER
In the last 50 years, seven athletes have dominated distance running for a period.
Ron Clarke set a world record in 1963 but lost at the 1964 Olympics but set ground breaking world records in 1965 and 1966. He probably would have won the 10,000m at Mexico 1968 but for the altitude. He was still the world leader in 1969 but had a poor championship record.
Lasse Viren was the opposite and was unbeatable in his two Olympic years but unimpressive at other times. He did set a world 5000m and 10,000m record in 1972.
Fast-finishing Miruts Yifter was a 1972 10,000m medallist and missed the 1976 Olympics but was dominant from the 1977 World Cup to the 1980 Olympics.
Said Aouita dominated at 1500m and 5000m and only ran one serious 10,000m. He did win 1984 Olympic and 1987 world 5000m gold and four years running was the world’s fastest 5000m runner becoming the first to break 13 minutes in 1987.
Haile Gebrselassie won his first world title in 1993 at 10,000m but lost at 5000m but was the world’s best for much of the next decade.
Apart from his domination at 5000m and even more at 10,000m, he also uniquely won a world indoor 1500m and 3000m title and set a world marathon record – running the world’s fastest time each year from 2005 to 2008.
He did lose the 10,000m in the 2001 World Championships but came back to set a world lead of 26:29.22 in 2003 but that year he lost to Kenenisa Bekele who dominated – certainly at 10,000m until 2009.
Farah took over in 2011, losing narrowly in the world 10,000m but making amends at 5000m.
MEN’S 6-STAGE WON BY LINCOLN WELLINGTON AS LEIGH HARRIERS TAKE WOMEN’S 4-STAGE RACE
OVER TWISTING switchback courses within the confines of Sport City, only Liverpool Harriers won more than one title, but they failed to retain their senior men’s crown as Lincoln Wellington had a comfortable victory.
On the second of a threeyear deal at Sport City, the courses were slightly longer than those used in 2016, when a shortened route through the Etihad Stadium car park was used.
There were a number of team disqualifications for fielding athletes who the organisers claimed had not paid their England Athletics affiliation fee for 2017-18 prior to the race.
These are subject to appeal and in the men’s race they included second-placed team, Salford Harriers, plus Leeds
City, Sale Harriers and Horwich RMI Harriers.
LINCOLN’S sextet all ran within 19 seconds of each other as the only club with all of their runners inside the 20-minute barrier for this 6.4km double lap. “We all live and train together, in Lincoln, under Mark Baddeley,” said leg four runner James Shaw and, apart from 2:17 marathoner Aaron Scott who took them into the lead with a 19:50 clocking on stage two, are all in their mid-20s.
It had been Horwich RMI’s Michael Cayton who had narrowly ‘won’ the opening leg after a close run race, in 19:36, as Lincoln were sixth, through Lucian Allison, from eventual runners up Salford, as bronze medallists Liverpool were back in 12th.
“It had started really slow before I picked it up on the second lap and three of us broke away,” said Cayton, who added that he had been feeling ill for a couple of weeks.
Behind Scott’s leg two run, Carl Avery was quicker, with 19:46, for eventual fourth placers Morpeth but, deep in the field, it was Jack Morris who scythed through 34 places, to a still lowly 24th, for Stockport with 19:10, the quickest of the day. Even at this early stage, Lincoln believed they could win as Scott said: “We have five guys just over 30:00 for 10km.
Shane Robinson increased the Lincoln lead by the midpoint of the race with 19:38 but, again, the fastest lap was down the field as Richard Weir moved up 18 spots to eighth for Derby, with the day’s second quickest time of 19:20.
Thereafter, Lincoln continued to extend their lead through the Straw brothers, James and Tom, before Joe Wilkinson completed the job with a 19:40.
James said: “I would have liked to have someone to chase,” while older brother Tom said: “I had to pace myself but I didn’t want James to beat me.”
Wilkinson rounded things off saying: “I went hard on the first lap but it’s tough on your own.”
With Lauren Howarth’s last leg of 19:47 comfortably the fastest time of the afternoon, Leigh Harriers completed an 80-second victory over second placed Leeds, for whom former top-ranked Susan Partridge was absent from their A team squad but running for their C team, after nursing her longtime Achilles injuries back to reasonable health.
Earlier Laura Hesketh had enjoyed an easy ride to ‘win’ the opening 5.4km double lap in the day’s third best time of
20:26. Leigh were back in 13th as eventual silver medalists Leeds were fifth and bronze medallists Rotherham were behind their B team in 18th.
Hesketh said: “I tucked in before I pushed hard on the second lap, then there were two of us.” Rachel Burns led in the rest for Liverpool but they were nearly 150m down.
Stage two saw Jenna Hill move from 10th to first for Sale, with the second best women’s time of 20:13, as Abigail Howarth moved Leigh to third behind Leila Armoush’s Leeds.
Burns said: “I decided to go second to chase people down and I enjoyed it.”
As the wind increased, Laura Riches took Leigh to the head of affairs on the penultimate leg with the fastest stage clocking of 21:23, ahead of Leeds, before noting that “none of us are as fit as we could be.”
Lauren Howarth extended their lead from 18 seconds to that yawning 80 on the final stage, finishing with an almighty sprint. “I had too much left but I was really pleased to win for the team,” said the 27-year-old, who admitted that she was racing over four miles in Holland on the day of the national relays. “The Northern relay is my favourite event,” added Howarth, who ran a 5000m PB of 15:29.26 in the USA in May.
Clare Duck maintained a consistent Leeds in second on the final leg with 20:49, as Rotherham were a distant third.
They had two of the quickest stage times through Jenny Blizard, who moved them to sixth on leg two with 20:42 and Sophie Cowper, who anchored with 20:44.
AGE GROUP RACES
LIVERPOOL annexed the two oldest girls’ races as well as the fastest laps, through Ella McNiven and Caitlin Robinson, who both had to have final stage heroics to ensure the gold medals were theirs.
On the first under-17 stage Emma Gordon was third, for Liverpool, behind Mya Taylor’s 12:44, the third quickest overall, for Rotherham, before McNiven stormed home with 12:09. “I went off quite quickly as I wanted to catch them, then relax, then I picked it up in the stadium,” said the English Schools 3000m winner.
The Liverpool under-15 girls had led on their opening lap with Faye O’Hare’s third best of the day with 11:57, but then slipped before Robinson not only took them back up to first but did so with more than half-a-minute to spare.
Rory Leonard gave Morpeth victory on the final leg of the under-17 men’s race with the second best time of 11:07 for their 3.7km lap but it was first stage winner Josh Dickenson who was quickest overall with 10:58.
Matthew Ramsden also secured a last lap win for under-15 winners Blackburn with his club’s quickest 10:50 but, again, it was the opening stage ‘winner’ Brandon Quinton who was quickest overall with 10:38. Barnsley’s Scott Nutter chased him home after doing much of the early leading, “but I passed him up the incline,” said Quinton.
The under-13 events saw Vale Royal’s Holly Weedall give their girls a massive winning margin after running the fastest 11:46, but Sheffield & Deane had a narrow squeak in the boys’ race, as they just scraped home from Blackburn.
Their final stage saw fireworks deep in the field as fastest lap runner Christopher Perkins gained 24 spots to 20th for Birtley, with the fastest 3.1km stage time of 11:10.
The start of the senior men’s 6-stage relay
Northern senior men’s 6-stage winners Lincoln Wellington (l-r): Lucian Allison, Aaron Scott, Shane Robinson, James Straw, Tom Straw and Joe Wilkinson
Joe Wilkinson: brought Lincoln home on leg six
All-time greats at the Great North Run in 2013: Mo Farah, winner Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie
Unprecedented success: 17 major gold medals for Britain
Mo Farah: 10 global track titles but should there be more ahead?
Leigh Harriers (l-r): Olivia Stones, Abigail Howarth, Laura Riches, Lauren Howarth
The start of the women’s under-17 relay
Laura Hesketh of Clayton-Le-Moors Harriers and Rachael Burns of Liverpool Harriers on leg one
Rory Leonard: U17 win for Morpeth
Lauren Howarth: glory leg for Leigh Harriers
Holly Weedall brings Vale Royal home in the U13 race