This is Beren Cross’s first piece for RunBlogRun. It will not be his last. His clean writing, with crisp observations, is the kind of writing we like; story telling of the highest level and giving you, our readers a view that they would not have from just watching on the television.
Mo Farah’s return to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park turned into a waiting gamenight, for all concerned.
The win was perhaps never in doubt, but the crowd were left guessing until the final lap for the burst of speed he has become famous for, which this time took him to a world leading 7min 34.6sec.
As Usain Bolt laboured his way around his victory lap, much in the same way he laboured to a 9.87sec victory, Farah was forced to carry out stride after stride down the back straight just to keep warm before the start.
The flashbulbs of the crowd which lit up Bolt’s finale kept whirring for Farah’s first outdoor appearance on British soil since his Great North Run win in September 2014.
It was Farah’s turn to make the crowd wait after he finally got his 3,000m underway, with no real sign of pace until 500 metres to go.
The stadium announcer’s promise of a British record (7min 32.7sec) attempt fell by the way side within the first kilometre, as Farah watched the pacemakers run away with their 60-second laps.
Mo Farah, photo by PhotoRun.net
As AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ kept the stadium intensity high, Farah lolled about in third place, untroubled until the crowd reminded him of the spectacle they paid to see with 1,000 metres to go.
That roar injected some urgency, but it did more for the 32-year-old’s challengers: Emmanuel Kipsang, Collis Birmingham and Bashir Abdi.
Farah was cleanly-shaven, but far from fresh faced as Birmingham and Kipsang came onto his shoulder with 600 metres to go. They dared to dream.
The dream was shattered within 100 metres. Farah reverted to 2012 Mo and took the lead, never looking back again.
A 25-second final 200 metres thrilled the partisan crowd, on their feet by this point, cheering their hero home with no regard for the speculation which has dogged his coach Alberto Salazar for much of the past two months.
The time was not an overall personal best, owing to his indoor 7min 33.1sec in February, but it was an outdoor best which softened the blow of missing out on David Moorcroft’s 33-year-old national record.
“I was tired, I went with the pacers. Sometimes as an athlete you’ve got to make a decision on it and I felt a bit tired,” he said.
“I looked at the screen and the guys were all following me, so I was like: ‘do I want to win the race or do I want to go for time?’
“And it was important for me to come out and win on the track rather than a fast time, so I had to make that decision.
“The guy who was leading, I didn’t know how good he was, so I just followed him, knowing I could run quicker at the end.”
This was the first time he had run on the Olympic track since his 7min 36.8sec clocking at the last Anniversary Games in 2013.
“It was amazing to get the support I got. It was incredible, it just reminded me of 2012. I’m just very excited to be back at the stadium
,” he said.
Further down the field there was a personal best for Chris Derrick, who finished eighth in 7min 43.7sec, he was in an American sandwich, with Bernard Lagat (7min 42.7sec) seventh and Lopez Lomong (7min 45.7sec) ninth.