World record hype. “You can do as many long runs as you like, but you can’t train for that area after 35k,” he said. “That’s unknown territory until you race it.”
When winning in Paris, he said Bekele “ran like a track racer. He put in a couple of fast kilometres – he should not have done that. But you have to learn. He could have run faster, maybe 2:04.30. It was a great debut. But you can’t compare it with guys who have run marathons from the beginning, guys who never trained for the track.
“Track runners take time to adjust, because they have years of speed training in their legs, and the whole system has to change. I think Mo will have that same experience. Anything under 2:07 would be great.”
The marathon duel between Farah and Bekele is one London guru Dave Bedford anticipated years ago. “I hope it happens,” said Hermens. “Kenenisa is ready for it, sooner or later.”
Anticipating Haile (41 this week) in London fills me with that sense of foreboding which attends watching a great heavyweight champion going back into the ring. In his pomp, he was peerless, with a range to match Mo. He was world indoor 1500m champion 15 years ago.
How much longer can he continue? “He just loves it,” says Hermens. “The guy is addicted. He will run his whole life. I can’t stop him. I’ve tried . . . the arguments that he is such a big name and should not do this pace the race. But he pleaded: ‘I’ve set 27 world records. Many athletes helped pace me. Why would I not do this for them? London was never my best, because of problems with my lungs [asthma]. Perhaps that may be a problem for Sunday, but it is such a great marathon. I enjoy it. Let me do it’.
“So I checked with many people. Most were in favour, though some were critical, suggesting that such a great champion should not do this. But he enjoys it, likes the crowds, likes people. He never could do anything in London, so this is a farewell trip, I guess.” Haile aims to go to 30k, preparation for a tilt at the world masters record of 2:08 in Hamburg three weeks from now.
Farah, I suspect, must serve his marathon apprenticeship. He may indeed be a world record contender in the long run, but not yet. Whatever he does tomorrow, it is how he recovers that will dictate whether he races at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and/or the European Championships less than a fortnight later. The Kenyan presence at Hampden means there will be no soft ride, but he could well run the 1500m in Glasgow and the 5000m in Zurich.