Mo Farah wins Great North Run in epic battle with Stanley Biwott, by Larry Eder


Farah_Mo1h-Lisbon15.JPGMo Farah, photo by

On a sunny day, with a light wind, and 41,486 actual runners, Mo Farah won the Great North Run, his second win here, in an epic battle with Stanley Biwott.

From our bird's eye view on the press truck, we watched the men's race from the start through miles ten, and then, from the finish, over the last mile.

For Mo Farah, this is a wonderful way to end 2015. After a challenging season, Mo Farah defended his Moscow double with wins over 10,000 meters and 5,000 meters .

Running 59:22, Mo won over Stanley Biwott by two seconds! This is Mo's PB, but will not count as a European record as the course is not record-worthy (road racing rules, sorry).

As I was standing in front of the start of the Great North Run this morning, I was amazed at how nice the conditions were, and how the sun and light win greeted the 57,000 runners.

Biwott_Stanley1c-Bogota15.JPGStanley Biwott, photo by

The Great North Run has been run since 1981, when Mike McLeod, 1984 Olympic silver medalist at 10,000m (and bronze medalist, but that is another story). Mike won the race two years, 1981 and 1983. Mike trained one of my formter athletes, Chad Pratt in the mid 1980s, and I have been most appreciative of his guidance for that young man.

I have digresed.

After a season that had as much drama off the track as on, Mo Farah won both the 5000 meters and 10,000 meters in Beijing. The narrative became about how fast Mo was, how his training was going, and the allegations about his coach were in the background.

"For today, the season ends on a high point...Stanley Biwott pushed me hard today. There was a couple of times where I did not know if I could handle the pace, but, Stanley slowed down. I was knackered at the end."

The pace built in the race, as a pack of twenty surrounded Mo Farah, who was in the second line of the pack. The pace was strong, from the start.

Mile one was hit in 4:40, mile two in 9:25 and mile three in 13:56, about 31 down from the record pace for the Great North Run. With 5k hit in 14:25, I figured the pace was about 60:30.

Mo said later that he was hoping for a 61 minute pace: " I was hoping for a 61:30 or so, but Stanley wanted to run much faster."

Mr. Biwott had a different plan.

The first 5k was hit in 14:25, and the pack began to dwindle, from 20 to 12 by the 8k. Mile 4 was hit in 18:34, mile five in 23:21, and then, Stanley Biwott got serious. 10k was hit in 28:45.

The sixth mile was hit in 4:25, then, for mile 8, in 4:23, then, in mile 9, in 4:20.

Biwott was relentless, as the pack dropped from twelve at five miles to four by seven miles, and by nine miles, Mike Kigen, Stanley Biwott and Mo Farah were the final three.

And then, after a third 5k in 13:43, it was Mo Farah and Stanley Biwott.

I had written on twitter, " Biwott is testing" as the pace dropped so drastically.

The pace had been 14:25, then, 14:20, then, 13:43 for the first three 5k segments.

"Stanley was pushing it, and I was barely holding on." noted Mo afterwards.

But, to this viewer, Mo Farah looked well within himself, gutting out the hard pace, knowing that his kick could be surpreme.

And then, there were two.

Stanley Biwott and Mo Farah hit the ten mile mark in 45:32 ( I remember Ian Stewart running a 45 minute 10 miler, so this was quite fast).

The pace slowed a bit, from a 4:20 mile, to a 4:35, then, a 4:28 for mile ten, and 4:35 for mile 11.

This kind of pace gives Mo Farah a bit of time to catch his breath.

He would need it.

Farah_Mo1b-Lisbon15.JPGMo Farah, Lisbon Half, March 2015, photo by

For Stanley Biwott, he knew he had to push the pace over the final downhill mile, which was covered in 4:16.

At that point, Mo Farah was into the muscle memory and with a final push, ran the last 200 meters in 28 seconds,

taking the Great North Half in 59:22, a British best, but not a record, as the course is not IAAF record worthy.

Mo Farah noted afterwards, " The track is my favorite, but this was great. The crowds are fantastic. Now it is time to go home and enjoy the birth of my son. Before that, we will take a little vacation with the family and relax.

After this season, Mo Farah deserves a break.

Next season is Rio.

But for now, some rest.

Glorious rest.

Great North Run, 1. Mo Farah, GBR, 59:22, 2. Stanley Biwott, KEN, 59:24, 3. Mike Kigen, KEN, 1:00:10, 4. Stephen Mokoka, RSA, 1:00:40, 5. Thomas Ayeko, UGA, 1:01:14, 6. Bashir Abdi, BEL, 1:02:22, 7. Stephen Sambu, KEN, 1:02:22, 8. Mark Kiptoo, KEN, 1:02:32, 9. Masato Kikuchi, JPN, 1:03:13, 10. Timothy Toroitich, UGA, 1:03:14, #greatnorthrun

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