In a race that portends Rio, but also shows the continuing growth of our sport, Mo Farah was challenged by William Sitonik Malel with 250 meters to go, and won, going away, over the last 75 meters, in 26:53.71, the second best time ever by a British athlete. It also should be noted that Mr. Farah owns the first best time by a Briton as well!
Updated May 28, 2016
The 10,000 meters, is, I believe, the cruelest race on the track. Twenty-five laps of running close to one’s limit, and then, a final, bone crushing kick to the finish, where one can win, or loose by mere hundredths of a second.
Mo Farah has run three 10,000 meter races at the Pre classic. Seventy-five laps around Hayward Field, and he has won all three events. He has intimate knowledge of this track surface and intense confidence in his ability to run any tactic and race anyone in the world.
The race began, as it ended: fast and furious. A first lap of 63.4, lead by German Fernandez of the US, had Fernandez leading through 1600 meters in 4:18.2. The first kilometer was passed in 2:43, and the second, in 2:42, with the kilometer time at two clicks coming in at 5:25.
Mo Farah was in second, just taking a survey of the runners and his world. Three kilometers was hit in 8:01, and nothing really changed, except that there were twelve men in the top pack and all capable of running 27:20 or faster.
Two miles passed in 8:35.5 and the pack was running fast. Mo Farah was running second, but between three kilometers and five kilometers, the pacer took the field through 2:42-2:43 kilometer pace, hitting 5000m in 13:23.2 (a bit off the late Steve Prefontaine’s last time here in 1975).
The pack up front looked like one of those centipedes run by the Aggies at the SF Bay to Breakers. Everyone running in unison, arms pumping, legs lifting as they ran 63-64 second pace each lap!
Mo Farah seemed to take a nap after 5000 meters, dropping to seventh, then, moving back up to second. I think, after having watched him in ALL of his twenty-five lappers, Mr. Farah took a bit of a mental break just before the race gets tiresome. After the race, Mo Farah told some media that he just had a bad patch.
And there were many runners trying to dethrone Mo Farah. Nichol Kosembei tried to build up a bit of a lead after six kilometers, passed in , passsed in 16:08.3. Kosembei lead as long as the pack wanted him too, and they swallowed him up.
8000 meters was passed in 21:25, and the pack was at nine. Mo Farah looked great, and he was trying to save, in this writer’s mind, movement and energy. Lots of energy being wasted as various Kenyans, Ethiopians tried to move on Mo Farah, and quite frankly, they could not. Kudos should be given to Albert Rop, who kept the pace honest through 8000 meters.
As the race got to the three laps to go mark, Mo Farah was restless. So was Kosimbei, who made a monster move, only to fall back and finish seventh. Kosimbei, as some will know, was the 2014 World Junior bronze medalist at 10,000 meters. Kosimbei challenged Mo Farah up through 8800 meters.
It came down from Tola, Sitonik, Sambu and Farah.
The pretenders to the throne and the king, battle to the end.
Mo began to string the field out with about 600 meters to go, and it looked like the Mo Farah playbook.
But, William Sitonik Malel had another idea.
With 250 meters to go, Malel took the lead from Mo Farah, Malel’s white uniform in stark contrast to Mo’s blue uniform. William Sitonik Malel looked like the real thing as he passed 9800 meters, and still leading at 9900 meters.
But, that only motivates Mr. Farah.
Coming off the turn, using the muscle memory he has developed over the past years, Mo Farah charged by William Sitonik Malel, as if standing still, to win in 26:53.71, with Mr. Malel in 26:54.66.
Then, came the procession.
Tamirat Tola, Ethiopia in 26:57.33, and Stephen Sambu in 26:58.25.
All in all, five men under 27 minutes, nineteen under 28 minutes, and another example of why Mo Farah is the finest distance racer of his generation. Note that 2011 WC champ, the last guy to beat Mo Farah over 10,000m, scored a pb with his 26:58.75-his last 10k PB was in 2006, when he was 17! Also note Zerzaney Tadese, yep, that Tadese, who challenged Kenenisa Bekele in Berlin 2009, where Bekele ran 26:46 to drop him! Tadese ran 27:00.66. Heck, many thought he had retired from the track!
Mo Farah realizes that, in the blink of an eye, he can go from first to second. And he does not like that second place feeling.
Now, it is on the road to Rio for Mo Farah and his challengers.