Mo Farah, Testing the marathon waters, by Larry Eder

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Three years ago, in Eugene, Oregon, Mo Farah won a tremendous 10,000 meters that was high on pressure, and challenging tactics. Later that year, Mo Farah took the silver in Daegu, Korea in the WC 10,000 meters and won the gold at 5,000 meters in a race that was more technically sophisticated. 

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Mo Farah, Nike Pre Classic 10,000m, photo by PhotoRun.net

In London, under intense pressure, Mo Farah won two gold medals, in the 10,000 meters and again, in a scarily tough 5,000 meters, where his challengers literally lined up behind him, as Mo Farah took the field through a sub four minute last mile and a final 400 meters in the 52 second range. 

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Mo Farah, London 2012, photo by PhotoRun.net

The 5,000 meters in London was 12 and one half laps where one could make a mistake. That the field allowed Mo Farah to just dawdle and let the pace slow down to 1972 levels meant several things: one, the field had no clue how fast Mo Farah could close, two, they had no clue about how past Champions had won, and three, perhaps they had no plans. It was obvious that Mo Farah did, as he wound up the pace and with three increasingly faster laps, just took the kick of men like Dejan Gebremeskel. A final, last 400 meters put the icing on the cake, so to speak, and Mo Farah won the London 5,000 meters. 

Lauded for his tactics and his coach, Alberto Salazar's attention to detail, why would anyone be surprised that Mo ran the first half of the 2013 Virgin London Marathon? 


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Mo Farah, Galen Rupp, A Day in the Life, April 13, 2013, 
photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images/IAAF

On Saturday, April 13, I was fortunate to observe a workout with Mo Farah, Galen Rupp, Cam Levin and Matthew Centrowitz, on the Nike Campus in Portland, Oregon. Alberto Salazar, their coach, and Peter Julian, their assistant coach, took the group through a set of 1600m, 1200m, 800m and 400m, with half distance jog and short jog between sets. Mo and Galen were doing three sets, Cam was doing two and Matthew was doing one and one half sets.

The sets started out at 4:36 pace on the soccer pitch near the Mia Hamm building. For the final set, the quartet moved to the Michael Johnson track, built in a grove of trees on the stunning Nike campus. "There is a family of deer that live on the field near the track" noted a bemused Alberto Salazar. 

In the final set, Mo and Galen ran 4:12.7 for the 1,600 meters, 3:06.5 for the 1200 meters, 1:57.8 for the 800 meters and a 55.1 for the 400 meters. Neither Galen nor Mo looked winded, and they finished with some 80 meter stride outs. 

In speaking to Mo in Portland about his upcoming adventure in London, Mo simply stated, that running the half marathon was research, for 2014. He needed to know how to take water, how to run with the pack and how to deal with the media scrutiny. 

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Mo Farah, photo by David Wearn/Virgin London Marathon

How right he was. The bombings in Boston increased the media scrutiny of the major marathons and also some media queries about Mo's reasoning for running London. Several media organizations suggested that Mo was receiving $300k to one million dollars for running the half marathon. Nothing could be farther from the truth. 

In the end, the Virgin London marathon received more than its money's worth in publicity, Mo Farah had a chance to see how a high stakes marathon is not only run, but develops over the week, and British fans were able to see Mo Farah running for 60:28 on British soil.

Just how fast will Mo Farah run in 2014? Not sure. Do know, that with a year, and some good training, I am pretty sure that Mo Farah will be in the thick of it in 2014. If it is a close race, the finish could be amazing. 

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