IT was the fastest of his six victories, but also the toughest to achieve. Sir Mo Farah created yet another piece of Great North Run history yesterday, but Britain’s greatest distance runner had to dig extremely deep to extend his winning run on the seafront at South Shields.

For a minute or two, as he lagged behind Ethiopian Tamarit Tola on the half-marathon route from the centre of Newcastle, it looked as though Farah’s invincibility was about to crack. Discomfort was etched on the multiple Olympic gold-medal winner’s face as Tola edged ten metres-or-so clear, but you do not achieve the kind of things Farah has without a capacity to endure a little torment.

Drawing on his detailed knowledge of the Great North Run course, Farah edged himself back alongside his rival, before pulling clear as the course turned downhill towards the North Sea.

The final 200m was hardly a stroll, but with victory assured, the Great North Run’s most successful ever runner was able to bask in the acclaim of an adoring crowd.

He eventually stopped the clock in a time of 59:07mins, his fastest for a half-marathon and the third-best ever recorded on the Great North Run course, and was able to reflect on a job well done. Even if his breathing was slightly more forced than usual.

“That wasn’t straightforward,” admitted Farah, who will now turn his attention to the defence of his Chicago Marathon title in five weeks’ time. “After about eight or nine miles, he (Tola) put the boot down and I just had to hold on. Luckily, he just didn’t get enough of a gap – if I had, I might have struggled to get back.

“I managed to get myself back in front, but the crowd was so loud towards the finish that I couldn’t really tell if he was closing the gap or getting close. That’s why I was having to keep looking back, but I know the course so well I was able to time it well. I put the boot down myself and went for it.

“I love winning here at the Great North Run, and I’m already planning on coming back next year to try to make it seven. Brendan saw me after the finish and said, ‘We’ve got to have you back next year’ – I would love to.”

In the meantime, Farah will be attempting to peak towards a tilt at the Olympic marathon title in Tokyo next year. Yesterday’s performance confirms his ability to beat the best at the half-marathon distance, but successfully negotiating an extra 13 miles remains a challenge.

“I think Tokyo is definitely on the cards,” he said. “As an athlete, you love to go to the Olympics and represent your country. I’m enjoying the marathon, but I’ve still got a lot to learn.

“I want to keep competing in marathons and trying to knock down my time. The plan is to go to Tokyo for the Olympics, and hopefully be in the mix.”

Farah finished six seconds clear of Tola yesterday, with his fellow Briton, Callum Hawkins, producing a fine performance of his own as he came fourth.

History was made in the elite women’s race, with Brigit Kosgei leading home a Kenyan one-two-three in a world best half-marathon time of 1:04.28. Charlotte Purdue was the leading Briton in fifth position, with her time of 1:08.10 lifting her to third position on the all-time UK half-marathon list.

There was a North-East victory in the elite women’s wheelchair race, with Teessider Jade Hall triumphing in a time of 50:15mins. Hall remains a world-class wheelchair racer despite dividing her time between athletics and para-triathlon.

Multiple Paralympic champion David Weir continues to dominate the elite men’s wheelchair race, with yesterday’s victory making it eight Great North Run titles for the Londoner.