Farah to Test Marathon Fitness at NYC Half, by David Monti, RRW, used with permission

(Editor's note: As part of his buildup for the Virgin Money London Marathon, Mo Farah will be racing the NYC Half on March 16, just less than one month before his debut at the full marathon distance. The 2012 Olympic double gold and 2013 World double gold medalist at 10,000m and 5,000m has shown his ability over the half marathon distance. Much interest is focused on Mo Farah's run in London. 

David Monte, RRW, and also the elite athlete consultant for the NYRR, wrote the following piece on Mo Farah's plan to race in the Big Apple on March 16. )

Mo Farah, photo by PhotoRun.net 
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

NEW YORK (26-Feb) -- Double Olympic champion Mo Farah will make his third road racing appearance here when he runs the NYC Half on Sunday, March 16, the New York Road Runners announced this morning.  Farah, 30, will use the race to test his fitness prior to the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 13, where he will run his first full marathon.

"I can confirm that I will run the NYC Half on March 16, as part of my buildup to the London Marathon in April," Farah said through a statement from his winter training base in Iten, Kenya.  "It will be my second time to compete in this event, after my win there in 2011. I have been training hard in Kenya and hope to use the New York race to gauge my fitness one month out from my 26.2 mile debut."

Farah made his road racing debut in New York in 2006 when he placed second to Australia's Craig Mottram in the UAE Healthy Kidney 10-K (at the time he was Mottram's training partner).  His next appearance came at the NYC Half in 2011 when he entered the race after winning the European Indoor Championships at 3000m.  Farah, and American training partner Galen Rupp, finished first and third, respectively.  Farah had to out-sprint TCS New York City Marathon champion Gebre Gebremariam to get the win in 1:00:23, the fastest time ever (at the time) by a British man.

Since then, Farah has risen to become the world's #1 distance runner, winning four IAAF World Championships medals (three gold, one silver), and two Olympic gold medals at the London 2012 Olympics at 5000m and 10,000m.  An incredibly versatile athlete, Farah even holds the European record for 1500m (3:28.81) which he set last July in Monaco.

Predictably, New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg is thrilled to have Farah in her race which will be held on a new course designed to accommodate 20,000 finishers.

"We're very excited to welcome Mo back to the NYC Half," said Wittenberg through a media release.  "This is a huge thrill for New Yorkers, who will get to see the world's top distance runner on the streets of Manhattan before he makes his full marathon debut in London. Mo's star quality and fan following are unmatched in our sport, and we are honored to have him highlight our professional field."

Last April, Farah ran about 20 kilometers of the London Marathon as a reconnaissance run for this year's race.  He said he was surprised at how difficult it was to run at such a torrid pace in a large pack and still pick-up and handle his personal drinks without fumbling.

"I was thinking, are they going to keep this pace going on?" Farah told the BBC after stepping off of the course on Tower Bridge.  He continued: "The bigger challenge is picking up the drinks and getting the right drinks.  I really made a mess of it.  It's one of the biggest lessons of my life, really."

Here in New York, the new half-marathon course is IAAF record-eligible, beginning on the east side of Central Park, and finishing in the Financial District downtown.  Farah has yet to break the 60-minute mark for the distance (his personal best is 60:10 from last September's Bupa Great North Run), so he could break the IAAF-ratified European Record of 59:52 set by Spaniard Fabian Roncero at Berlin in 2001.

The NYC Half was ranked the most competitive half-marathon in the United States last year for men by the independent Association of Road Racing Statisticians, receiving a field rating of 845, the highest in the event's eight-year history.  The race offers a $100,000 prize money purse ($20,000 for the winner), the largest purse of any half-marathon in the United States.

   NOTE: Race Results Weekly provides professional athletes consulting for the New York Road Runners and the NYC Half --Ed.

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