MO FARAH AT 2014 NYC HALF
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
NEW YORK - Take this from Mohamed "Mo" Farah: Kenenisa Bekele's Olympic 5,000-meter record (12:57.82 at Beijing in 2008) may last forever and ever.
Likewise for Eliud Kipchoge's World Championships meet record for the 5,000 (12:52.79 at Paris in 2003.)
"I can't ever see those races being fast again," declared the Great Brit who has the uncanny ability to win major track titles in races no matter what the pace, fast, half-fast or downright sluggardly.
"Thirteen-ten? Maybe. Thirteen-oh-five? Unikely. Thirteen-flat. Probably never."
You see, it's always all depending. The world's best twelve-and-a-half lappers are of two vastly different mindsets. They know they're ready to break 13 anytime the scenario demands it - but that scenario's only in place on selected stops on "the circuit," where the "rabbiting" is just right, the field's just right, the promotion's just right, the money's just right.
But that scenario may never be in place at a "major, at a medals-race, at a "Games" when it's every man for himself.
You saw it at Moscow in 2013, you saw it at London in 2012, you saw it at Daegu in 2011.
Every last finalist stepped to the line convinced he could jog eight, nine or ten laps, and then, sprint home with a 51 or 52 final lap to cover himself in everlasting glory.
That's why you saw Farah take the 2013 Worlds in 13:26.98, the 2012 Olympics in 13:41.66, the 2011 Worlds in 13:23.36.
"It's just the way it is and I don't ever see it changing," Farah said in a press "availability" three days before the New York City Half-Marathon, at which he intends to reclaim the crown he took with a 1:00.24 clocking in 2011.
When Farah won the Olympic 5000 title in 13:41.66 in 2012, a whole bunch of things happened.
Many asked, "why so slow?"
After all, at 13:39.86, Vladimir Kuts ran faster winning the Olympic 5,000 title way back in the ancient history of the 1956 Melbourne Games.
But many more looked right past the winning time in leaping onto the "Mo Farah is the greatest British runner of all time" bandwagon.
That's right, better than Coe, better than Ovett, better than Bannister, better than Chataway, better than Ibbotson, better than Moorcroft, better than Wooderson, better than them all.
"Very humbling, indeed," Farah called it all.
"And very hard to believe."
But the numbers have to be believed. Farah has surely proven he can win fast as well as slower/strategically.
In his case, those numbers are (5) as in major Games golds; (3) as in European track records,at 1,500 meters, two miles and 10,000 meters; (1), the British half-marathon record.
It's the number "2," though, that's most in vogue in current Farah-ian conversation.
You see, he'll make his 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 13 and there are lots of folks suggesting he has what it takes to run a 2:02, a 2:01, or a goshalmighty-sub 2.
(With the world record, last time he looked, credited to Wilson Kipsang, who ran 2:03:23 at Berlin last September.)
"Certainly there is a lot of talk going on," he said. "But that's easy for those who are talking.
"They're not running it, I still have to do the running."
And what happens if he runs into "the wall?"
"Yes, I know it's out there," he said. "I've heard so many other runners discussing it.
"But where it's at? - that's the big question.
"Twenty-miles? 21, 22?
"Guess I'll just have to wait and see."
And as he said that, his smile extended even further.
He should have smiley-fond memories of The Big Apple.
After all, his 2011 NYRR Half-Marathon win in 1:00:24 - narrowly over Gebre Gebremariam and Galen Rupp - served as a launching pad for
all the much bigger successes that soon followed.
Rupp's not in this one but this Sunday's top rivals will include NYC/Berlin/Boston Marathon winner Geoffrey Mutai, Wesley Korir, Jason Hartmann, Stephen Sambu, Brett Gotcher and Matt Tegenkamp.
The pack - an expected 20,000 - gets going at 7:30 a.m. from 72nd Street on Central Park's East Drive, treks north to 110th Sreet, then south on the park's West Drive. Now for the best part - out of the park, straight down Seventh Avenue to 42nd Street, then right turn to the West Side Highway, hugging the Hudson River, and around the tip of Manhattan to the finish line at Water Street and Wall Street.
It's obvious, life is all smiles for "Mo" Farah these days.
He'll be 31 on March 23, he's at the peak of his game, he's a married man and father of three, living the good Nike-man's life in Portland, Oregon, absorbing Alberto Salazar's abundant font of distance running knowledge, and rolling in dollars-pounds-euros, whatever.
Thanks to astute deals worked out with the Octagon and Pace sports management companies, he's signed lucrative sponsorship, advertising and endorsement contracts (with the likes of Nike, Virgin Media and Lucozade) that
some estimate are annually worth 10 million pounds (some 16 millions dollars.)
Should he do something truly extraordinary in the London Marathon, those numbers could leap to amazing heights. Don't dare think something-like a low-low wish marathon-is beyond his reach.
Perhaps biggest explanation for that incredible optimism is the huge burden of expectation that was lifted off his slender shoulders following the double dips of glory at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
"The pressure on me was incredible," he said. "I felt it every step of each of my races. Justified or not, everyone expected me to win. If I didn't, I knew I'd be letting down my whole country."
And when he indeed came home with double gold, it was accompanied by "a feeling of massive relief."
The 2011 move to Portland to train under Salazar (and with Galen Rupp) has proved to be a master stroke.
"I was a pretty good runner before that," he said. "But Alberto has made all the difference. He has brought out my best. I owe so much to him. He is like a father to me. We are all family."
Never one to stop counting his blessings, Farah continues to give back and give back.
Now that he can afford to be a philanthropist, his foundation supports an array of worthy causes focusing on his native Somalia (where he was born in 1983)
and other third-world nations.
And wherever he travels, he makes sure to do things "for the kids."
In New York, Farah happily took part in the New York Road Runners' Mighty Milers program-"imagining excellence." With school-based physical education
programs being cut back everywhere, a major NYRR mission is to plug that gap by providing the community health and fitness events urgently needed in communities everywhere.
Last year, NYRR events benefited over 85,000 children in 625 schools and 25 community centers.
This "availability" took place in New York's historic Public School No. 1, located in Chinatown.
The fourth-grade kids of P.S. 1, gathered for an assembly, of course loved him.
"He trains hard, eats good food, and gets all his rest," noted Joene Maduro.
"He runs every single day of his life. He has to because he wants to be the best," said Makayle Martinez.
"He's the best in the world and he came to our school, that's an honor for all of us," beamed Crystal Haidery.