Mo Farah is a huge draw everywhere, but no where more than in UK. At past meetings, global media would get some questions with Mo, and the British press would have a group attempt, and some time with TV, and radio media. Mo Farah is pretty good with the media.
The doping questions seem pretty much modest this time. Mo Farah is wary, and rightly so, with the intrusive nature of questioning many times in UK. This was pretty mellow as he is a) in UK, b) ran a fine London Marathon and is no longer working with Alberto Salazar. British press chastized Mo because he moved to US and used a US coach. Whether there had been doping issues or suggestions or not, Mo would have been pummeled for training in US.
How good is Mo Farah? Mo proved in London that he can run against anyone in the marathon, and with the exception of Eliud Kipchoge, take a medal in World, Olympic and European marathon titles.
For Great Run Company, Mo Farah is perfect. The 40,000 10k runners love him, as do sponsors. Mo Farah has just taken ten days off after a brutal (yes, brutal) marathon. This will be a modest race on Sunday.
A wide ranging interview, we thank Stuart Weir for the coverage.
Question 1. What are your thoughts after London?
Mo Farah: “I wasn’t too bad. I was only battered for one day. The day after finishing the marathon. Then I was ok, feeling alright and wanting to get back to running again. I had 10 days not running which is a lot for me.
I think I learned a lot. I had no choice. The guys were going after the WR so I had to go with it or hang back like I did in 2014. But when you hang back, you can’t close that gap, it’s too much, it’s not like the 5,000m or 10,000m. In the marathon, 15 seconds ahead is hard to close. So I had no choice but to go with it as much as I could. To come third, to beat so many guys, and to break the British record is incredible.
I think looking at the time I have run and what I can do then I believe I am capable of running faster and it I can learn to compete with more guys then I have a chance of coming away with a medal in Tokyo. If you look at world championships and Olympics the times are not that fast so hopefully that shows I can mix it and hopefully win a medal. The aim is definitely to continue to do the marathon and I also think I am capable of getting a medal in Doha. After that it’s the Olympics in Tokyo.
A marathon at midnight sounds a bit crazy – who’s going to be out there on the streets supporting, but I went to Doha in January before I headed out to Ethiopia and saw the stadium with its air con and it was quite impressive. Having the marathon at midnight is good for the athletes but I’m not sure what the turnout will be.”
Question 2: Training at midnight? Dodging foxes?
Mo Farah: “I won’t be doing that. I’m not a morning person anyway and I struggle with early morning races. I’m more of a night person if I had to choose.”
Question 3: Marathon meant to be a proper test (Daily Mail subtext: is this health and safety gone MAD!!!!?)
Mo Farah: “For me, no matter when it was, if you are going to put a World Championship medal out there, I’m going to go for that medal. It’s good to have people watching buit people will be watching in the UK and sending their support. I’m not really thinking about it, I’m thinking about how I am going to win a medal. It will be like 8 or 9 o’clock in Britain.”
Question 4: Autumn marathon?
Mo Farah: “I’m definitely going to do an autumn marathon, that’s what I have to do in order to keep learning. I’m not sure which one it will be. Last time I spoke to Ricky, he said he is working on it and is seeing which one works best for me and who they are going to have. You have to be able to go into a marathon and see what am I going to learn, what is it going to give me? Is it going to be a fast time, am I going to be going where they have no pacemakers so I mix with the guys, that’s the key. Gary is coming over and we will figure it out.”
Question 5: More America than Berlin?
Mo Farah: “I think so, it just depends what do I want, what is going to give me more experience? Is it going to give me more experience with no pacemakers, fighting with these guys and seeing what can do. I know Eliud is doing Berlin for sure. I just want to run fast and see what I can do.
I think Chicago or New York could work well. Then there’s Frankfurt, Amsterdam is another one and then Berlin, everybody runs fast there.”
Mo Farah, Simply Health Manchester Great Run, photo by Cavendish Press/The Great Run Company
Question 6: Berlin – get 2.03, 2.04?
Mo Farah:” If you win a major marathon, that’s a good win., as opposed to running 2.04 in Berlin and coming seventh. Over time I’d like my time to come down and see what I can do, but for now it’s more about experience. On the track I didn’t win overnight, I didn’t turn up and get medals, it was years there or there about and then I came up with a way where I could beat the guys. It’s the same in the marathon.”
Question 7: Psychological difference to win a big one?
Mo Farah: ” It does give you a massive boost. On the track, I remember the first time I got a big win, which was Prefontaine 10,000m. I ran 26:46, beat everyone else and I knew from that point that I was going to be hard to beat. I think that’s similar in the marathon.”
Question 8: Chicago/New York more likely?
Mo Farah: “I don’t know. I’m going to talk to Gary and figure out ‘what do I need? How am I going to do it?’.”
Question 9: Change of pace part of the schedule?
Mo Farah: “It’s different. I’m getting used to it. I’m the sort of person where if I make a mistake or get something wrong in a race (on the track) then you feel ‘it’s ok, I know where I am, I need to make a little change in training or a do a little more here’. In the marathon you just train, train for six months and the, race.”
“That’s hard and I think I prefer the track where you have races constantly, where you’re testing yourself and learning.
“Back in the day, you’d watch other races and look at it: ‘how’s he looking? where’s he moving?’. A lot went into it – most people think I was just going to turn up and win.”
Question 10: Part of you miss meets like Pre?
Mo Farah: “Not Prefontaine, it’s too early. When I look at some of the Diamond Leagues later on, that will be the point when you go… (I’d like to be there).”
Question 11: Kiprop?
Mo Farah: “It’s so disappointing to see someone who has the calibre of medals to be in the news for that reason. It’s not what the sport needs but at the same time the right authorities have to deal with it. Obviously you do hear little bits and bobs but it’s nonsense and it’s not acceptable.”
Question 12: Testers ever asked for money?
Mo Farah: “No. The drug testers are there and, for me, there are a few things wrong with that situation. Firstly, the drug testers are not there to give you warning – they are there to surprise you and to catch you, otherwise what’s the point in testing? Secondly, why is anyone coming for money? That’s breaking the rules.
“Thirdly, if you failed a test you failed a test so I think it’s time to move on. At the same time, as an athlete, we work so hard and for someone to come out (and do that)…”
Question 13: Feel vindicated?
Mo Farah: “I’ve always said it has to be a fair playing field. The rules we have in our country, I want other countries to do the same thing. If they did, it would be better.”
Question 14: Were you regularly tested in Kenya?
Mo Farah: [Mo interjects] “Oh yeah.”
Question 15; And Ethiopia?
Mo Farah: “All the time.”
Question 16: By IAAF?
Mo Farah: “When I was in Ethiopia I was pretty much tested on average every two weeks, and maybe even more than that. I don’t know the exact amount of tests, I would have to look back into it. And when I was in Kenya I was tested a similar amount, although I haven’t been since 2014.”
Question 17: And that was blood and urine?
Mo Farah: “Yes, and the same in Ethiopia. “
Question 18: Local testers?
Mo Farah: ” I think the ones doing it in Kenya were South Africans, and when I was in Ethiopia it was different because you have the IAAF, you have WADA and your have British ones. The WADA one, I think, was foreign. And the IAAF they were using local Ethiopians as well as foreign ones. So it was a a mixture.”
Question 19: Question When you heard about it, did you think back to those incredible runs against Kiprop in Monaco?
Mo Farah: “Yeah mate … I finished second to him. Mate, I just look back and you just hope he wasn’t it when he beat me, but obviously you question it.”
Question 20: You said you had heard whispers. In Kenya did you hear anything – and are there certain training groups people you have suspicions about?
Mo Farah: “I never heard anything other than now. Beforehand, it comes out on Twitter and other places, Facebook there is a lot of talk. Beforehand you never hear it. I think in this sport, having some negative things about it, people do ask questions of someone who has run certain times. The first thing you do is think, oh god, has it become normal now? But at the same time we have to keep fighting and keep strong. Because if love the sport we have to keep fighting for it. “
Question 21: People say you can’t trust the sport any more?
Mo Farah: “Yeah, but that’s our own fault. You can’t blame anyone else. If we love our sport we need to do something. And I ask people to come forward and keep doing what we can. Because if we don’t deal with it now, how is going to be for the next generation, or the generation after that? It’s the same thing with my kids, when I do something wrong, I tell them off. And I think anyone who is caught with drugs should be kicked out. As I have said strongly over the years, it has cost the sport a lot.”
Have you experienced or heard rumours of tipping off athletes re tests?
Mo Farah: “I have never heard it. I have only heard it since he came out and said that. I know obviously it is not rumours – it is a fact that other African countries are not doing as what we do. That is a fact. Or doing as many tests as Britain and other countries are doing.”
Question 22: Your goals this weekend? Jog and win?
Mo Farah: “Do you reckon? It is hard to say that. I had 10 days off, I am not in top shape but decent. The aim for me is always to come out and do London, use it as a stepping stone. I am not that worried (about a club runner taking his scalp).”
Question 23: Disappointed not to be taking on Biwott, might it have been helpful in terms of marathon preparation?
Mo Farah: “10k is completely different. It would have been nice to have him in the field and the bigger the nbame the better for TV but I don’t think it says much on 10k. It is more half marathon, 15k. “