Fans, eight thousand of them (a sell out crowd, sold out since November 2011), were ready to see something special, and they were rewarded for their presence.
His splits had been other wordly: Puttemans hit the 400 meters in 58.0, the 800 meters in 1:57.2, the 1,000 meters in 2:27.0, the 1,200 meters in 2:57.6-and he went on! Puttemans hit the 1,500 in 3:43.0 and came to the half-way mark, the mile, in 4:03.2. Puttemans did not stop. He hit 2,000m in 5:00.0, 2,400 meters in 6:01.8 and 2,800 meters in7:05.00, and the 3,000 meters in near record 7:39.2. Then, Puttemans fell back to earth....
About this time, Emiel Puttemans started to show that he was, a mortal after all. Finishing with a 34.0 second 200 meters, Puttemans crushed the indoor world record, with his fantastic 8:13.2!
The race on February 18, 2012 was quite different. The pace was a bit slower, hitting the 400 meters in 61, the 800 meters in 2:01, and the 1,200 meters in just over 3:02. In the front pack, Gideon Gathimba took the pack of Kipchoge, Kipsiro, Farah and Tariku Bekele, the mile in 4:04.58.
When Mo Farah was introduced, the crowd went nuts. The loudest reception by the 8,000 fans besides Jessica Ennis earlier in the afternoon.
Tariku Bekele pushed the peddle down then. Running hard, he took Moses Kipsiro, Eliud Kipchoge, Mo Farah and Arne Gabius of Germany through sixty second laps. Mo Farah had been covering all of the moves, and he looked to be struggling, but with two laps to go, the race was on, and while Tariku Bekele lead them through the 3,000m, in 7:37.06, they were then two seconds up on Emiel Puttemans record pace!
Mo Farah dug deep over the last 200 meters, and moved up from fourth to second, but Kipchoge was in great form, and even the deafening cheers from the fans could not will Mo Farah past Kipchoge.
Eliud Kipchoge, the 2003 WC at 5,000 meters, was running very well, and just did not let up, taking the win in 8:07.39, the fifth best time ever at the distance and the world leader for 2012. Mo Farah, coming back from fourth, clawed his way into third, then second, and ran 8:08.07, a new British record and a new European record! Moses Kipsiro of Uganda, ran 8:08.16, for a new NR for Uganda, having passed Bekele in the last stretch. Tariku Bekele, ran his PB of 8:08.27, falling to fourth! Arne Gabius of Germany was fifth in 8:10.78, his PB.
Eliud Kipchoge, after his hard won victory noted: " Today, I l felt a lot better that I have been. It's showing that my winter training is going well. It was a tough field, but this is what athletics is all about-running with the big champions in the big races."
Mo Farah, had these observations on his two mile record: " With Galen (his training partner, Galen Rupp) running 8:09.72, I definitely thought I could match that, but I felt a bit flat on the last kilometer because I'd been up with the pace early on. But, it's coming together. It is tough out there, you know, you can't always win and races like that really keep you on your toes."
In my opinion, Ewan Thomas, the European 400m champion, one of the three former athletes doing on field announcing, said it best; after the two mile, Thomas noted that no race has a guaranteed outcome. That is the nature of our sport.
Having observed Mo Farah, and his coach, Alberto Salazar, my belief is that, under such a high period of training, as is January, February and March, focused on positive results in the London Olympics in August, these races are really testing points. Observations would suggest that Mo Farah is pretty fit for so early in the year. He will only get better and more confident as the year goes on.
And that is what he needs, when, seriously, he battles the best middle distance runners in the world over 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters. Mo Farah will get his potential medals in London the old fashioned way: he will have to earn them with brilliant racing and heart thumping timing. For the fan, it will be exciting.
For a Belgian gardener, his oldest European indoor record has been broken.
Somewhere, though, in a cabinet or perhaps a jewelry case at Mr. Puttemans, lay two silver Olympic medals, in remembrance of two races where, in 1972, he pushed the rest of the distance running world to the very brink, and only a solitary Finn finished ahead of him, taking gold from his very fingers.
Those medals, hard won, can never be taken away. Records are to be broken.
Lasting thirty-nine years is several generations of distance runners' life times. It took an athlete of Mo Farah's stature, battling the best in the world, Eliud Kipchoge, Moses Kipsiro and Tariku Bekele, for tenths of seconds to break a 39 year old record.
Some of the thoughts expressed above might be considered by Britain's great hope, Mo Farah. Perhaps, Mo will take those thoughts with him, as he travels back to the States to run with his training partner, Galen Rupp, as their coach, Alberto Salazar focuses them on two races in August 2012.
Special thanks to Ian Stewart, Meet Director, for his kind assistance, Mark Butler for the splits (via Alberto Salazar), and the media team at UK Athletics and FastTrack Agency, who were so helpful this past weekend.
|16:14 - 2 MILES - Men||OFFICIAL RESULTS|
|1 Mile||Gideon GATHIMBA||KEN||4:04.58|
For more information on the 2012 AVIVA Grand Prix: www.avivagrandprix.com