2018 Virgin Money London Marathon Diary: Mo Farah relishes absence of favourite role as he returns to Virgin Money London Marathon, by Andy Edwards, Race News Service


mo 2 large .jpgMo Farah, doing the patented "Mobot", April 17, 2018, VM London Marathon, photo courtesy of Virgin Money London Marathon Media

When I decided that, in order to recover from cardiac catherization, I needed a break from the athletics road trips, Andy Edwards offered to help me with coverage of our favorite event, the Virgin Money London Marathon. Besides the marathon, there is a fine Indian restaurant around the corner from the Guoman Hotel, great walks across the Tower bridge, and being with my English friends, who my sister refers to as " Larry's English Family (although some are Scottish)".

Here is Andy's piece on Mo Farah, who will be aiming for the record of one Steve Jones on Sunday.

Mo Farah relishes absence of favourite role as he returns to Virgin Money London Marathon

By Andy Edwards, Race News Service

London, Tuesday, April 17

For a man who has won four Olympic golds and six World titles on the track, it came initially as a jolt to hear Mo Farah say: "It's a great feeling not to have the pressure I had on the track, seeing I'm ranked 27th on the start list." But it reflected the sense of realism in his comments throughout the press conference he gave in the Tower Hotel beside Tower Bridge, having arrived from his training base of Ethiopia that Tuesday morning.

As he pointed out, when London assembles yet another outstanding field including the Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, last year's champion Daniel Wanjiru and the runner-up Kenenisa Bekele and 12 men in total who have run faster than his best of 2:08:21, this challenge represents a further stage in his learning process. But there were plenty of hints that the marathon education is progressing well under the tutelage of coach Gary Lough. Mo Farah praised Lough's guidance: "I'm not going to give away anything massive but I've got to know Gary really well and we work well together and there are things he's given me that I've never done before."

One example that Mo Farah would disclose is short recovery sessions, allowing between 30 to 45 seconds rest, which he has found testing despite his track pedigree. While saying he has "done with track", there was a hint of nostalgia for the comradeship of track workouts. Marathon training, including running consistently 120 miles per week, has required a change in focus: "In the marathon you have just one chance and that's it for the next few months."

In terms of coaching, Farah was clear that he consults Gary Lough exclusively; the question of whether he had been in touch with former coach Alberto Salazar or Lough's partner Paula Radcliffe was answered with a prompt, "No, Gary is my coach.".

Mo Farah London 2018.jpgMo Farah, Pressure is off when you are ranked 27th in field, photo by Virgin Money London Marathon Media

This is the Farah and Lough approach for Sunday: "Our aim is to go with our own plan and see what we can do. I'm going after the British record [2:07:13 by Steve Jones to win Chicago, October 10, 1985] for sure and then see what happens. A win would be amazing but in every race I go into, I try to make the podium."

Talking of Steve Jones, when he was asked in the week before the 2014 London Marathon if he thought Mo Farah would beat his time, the Welshman confidently expected to lose his UK record and that Farah would be a contender for the title. Like Paul Tergat, Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele before him, Mo Farah's comments in Tuesday's press conference indicated that you enter the world of elite marathons as an apprentice, no matter what your achievements on the track.

This is not to downplay Mo Farah's potential. While talking about how much he is learning, the example of others who have made that transition is a driving force: "You've got to find a new challenge. On the track, the only thing I haven't done is a world record. I've seen a lot of great athletes go from the track to the marathon and I believe I can run a good marathon."

He believes he could run 2:04 or 2:03 within the next two years and that would be within the time frame of the Tokyo Olympic Marathon as well. Again striking a note of realism, Mo Farah added: "But Sunday's race is going to be a lot different."

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