Mo Farah to run half of London's Marathon-Good idea? by Toni Reavis, note by Larry Eder

Athletics, in the modern day, is sports entertainment. The London Olympics can attest to that. With 80,000 people in the evenings and 75,000 people in the morning sessions, Athletics in London showed that it can, with proper management and orchestration, compete with major televised sports around the world. 

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Mo Farah, 2011 NYC Half, photo by

The Virgin London Marathon announced last week that Mo Farah, 2012 Olympic double gold medalist, will run the first half of the Virgin London marathon in 2013 and the complete distance in 2014. This seems to have created some controversy. Note the column below from Toni Reavis, one our most articulate writers about the sport we love. 

My thoughts? From the marketing side, it is brilliant. From the purist side, I am even okay. I would be upset if he was running the second half, really. Truth is, marathon does not even start, in my mind until 30-35 kilometers anyway. Everything up to that distance is merely window-dressing. 

Mo Farah is a rock star in the UK. If Dave Bedford and Hugh Brasher can get more media exposure with such an approach, more power to them.

As you would surmise, Toni Reavis begs to differ. But then, dear readers, that is why we post his blogs! (Oh, please sign up for Toni's blogs, they are well written, thoughtful, and remind us of what our sport should be and could be.)


by Toni Reavis

Mo Farah

Mo Farah

Britain's double Olympic track champion Mo Farah begins the re-landscaping of his career toward the marathon this weekend when he competes in New Orleans at the Rock `n` Roll Half Marathon.  It will be the second competitive half-marathon of Farah's career. The 2012 Olympic 5000 & 10,000 champion won the 2011 New York City Half Marathon in his debut in 60:23.

While the half in New Orleans will serve as an intermediate step toward Farah's full marathon debut in London 2014, he will concentrate his 2013 efforts on the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Moscow this summer. But there will be another, more significant step toward the marathon this April when Mo will start this year's Virgin London Marathon.  Yes, he will start, but he will not finish.  How do we know?  Because that is the deal that Mo's people worked out with London, start this year, run till half-way then drop off. Then go the full distance in 2014.

Athletically, this makes perfect sense.  From Mo's vantage point getting the chance to take part in the event without actually being a competitor should serve him well in 2014. And financially it's a win fall. According to the U.K's Daily Mail, Mo Farah will receive an impressive (by running's standards) £750,000 for his two London starts ($1,160,000US).  That fee, which was not confirmed by first-year race director Hugh Brasher (son of event founder Chris Brasher), would dwarf even the £500,000 it is believed Paula Radcliffe received in her prime a decade ago.

The Daily Mail story also underscores the point  made by Ben Rosario in a recent submission about the need to make such appearance fees public to hype the sport as being truly professional. BEN ROSARIO: WHAT ARE WE AFRAID OF?

"He'll be rightfully well rewarded as an Olympic champion," was all Hugh Brasher would reveal to the Daily Mail.

But while it all works well for Mo to go just half-way in London, how fair is it to the actual race contenders?  And what does it do for the focus of race coverage? Read more of this post

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