DON’T GIVE UP THE TRACK, MO

Athletics Weekly - - Talking Point - RE­PORT: MARTIN DUFF PIC­TURES: DAVID HEWITSON

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.

SE­NIOR MEN

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.”

SE­NIOR WOMEN

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.

Mo Farah: 10 global track ti­tles but should there be more ahead?

Un­prece­dented suc­cess: 17 ma­jor gold medals for Bri­tain

All-time greats at the Great North Run in 2013: Mo Farah, win­ner Ke­nenisa Bekele and Haile Ge­brse­lassie

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

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

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