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Great North Run's triple threat
IT HAS BEEN billed as the most exciting line-up for the Great North Run since its inception more than 30 years ago, and Mo Farah is looking forward to making history this weekend.
The double World and Olympic champion in 5,000m and 10,000m confirmed his status as Great Britain's greatest athlete this summer, and could cap that by winning the world-famous half-marathon tomorrow.
But he faces a stern challenge in the face of Kenenisa Bekele and Hailie Gebrselassie who make up an irresistable leading three in the race from Newcastle to South Shields.
When asked if he was in shape to get under an hour – the course record is 58.56, set by Martin Mathathi two years ago – Farah answered: “I just don’t know. I haven’t done too much since the World Championships so I’ve got the track speed but it really just depends on how the race goes early on and later on.
“Personally I don’t think it’s about times, it’s about putting on a great show.
“It should be a great race. It’s very, very exciting and I’m definitely looking forward to it. I think if you look at the field it is really exciting.
“It is brilliant for the sport that we have got these head-to-heads. If you put all the titles and world records and medals and everything together you see what this race is all about. Hailie is just a great.
“Hailie has too much experience for us, we will have to follow him and just see what happens.”
Arsenal-supporting Farah will not get a chance to see his team face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, but added: “I’m not going to make it to the Stadium of Light the day before. I’m really excited about Mezut Ozil and hopefully they’ll do well.”
Bekele, meanwhile, feels that Mathathi's record time could be under threat tomorrow, considering the competition at the front.
The 31-year-old said: “I am very, very excited about the quality of the field. It is a very interesting race.
“It is very prestigious and well-known race throughout the world so to take part is a real privilege for me. It is a great race in our sport and we all know about the Great North Run throughout the world.
“I am very excited. It will be great and the atmosphere will be really great on Sunday.
“It will depend on who runs the fastest - you need someone to make the race go faster. It is not easy to run 58.56 unless you have the perfect conditions but I think we will see great things.”
Conditions are certainly not expected to be perfect. Rain is forecast, but Bekele's fellow Ethiopian Gebrselassie will not be perturbed by that.
“I am maybe better when conditions aren’t like that but what can you do? You have to race. You have to run,” said the 40-year-old, who won in 2010.
“I was wondering what the weather would be like but it is not just for me that the wind or rain might be a problem. It is also for the other athletes, especially for those athletes who are running from the front.”
“I think the whole country will stop to watch this. They will be very excited by it.
“It is really a unique and very different race this weekend. Everybody in Ethiopia and throughout the world wants to see this because it is going to be a great moment for our sport.
“There is a great field and of course the women as well. It’s going to be very unique and it will be wonderful for people to watch. It is nice for us to have such a wonderful race and brillaint that we are going to take part in it.”
“I ran a good half marathon here in 2010 and I think Sunday will be another very good one. I think the standard of the field will make it a great run.”
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