Haile Gebrselassie, the 40 year old former Olympic champion and 26 time world record holder, had some words of advice to Mo Farah, current champion of the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races at both the Olympics and World Championships, before their race in Great North Run on Sunday: “Mo, why do you have to move to the marathon so early? You’ve got a long career.” Gebrselassie went on to say that he “…would like to advise him to stay a little bit longer on the track. Very few athletes are successful in this business from track to road. It looks like it is (too soon for him) but I don’t know maybe I make a mistake.”
Why would Gebrselassie be telling Farah to not attempt to achieve greatness in another distance? It appears as though Gebrselassie is giving advice based on his own experiences. In 2002, Gebrselassie switched to the marathon from track-racing, and he believes that the switch came much too early. Instead of switching to marathon running, Gebrselassie would rather see Farah stay at his current distances and attempt to break even more world records.
Despite Gebrselassie’s advice, Farah seems adamant to do the exact opposite. Currently, Farah is scheduled to compete in his first marathon at the London Marathon next year. One of Farah’s first steps toward participating in the London Marathon next year was to participate in the Great North Run yesterday in Newcastle, England. The marathon saw its most star-studded line-up in its 32 year history: Mo Farah, current Olympic and world champion; Haile Gebrselassie, former Olympic champion and overall bad-ass long-distance runner; and Kenenisa Bekele, the forerunner of the world’s greatest running nation, Ethiopia.
The race on Sunday help up to its expectations. While Jos Hermens, manager of both Gebrselassie and Bekele, stated that he would have to put his money on Farah if he was betting on Sunday’s race, it was his own competitor, Bekele, that came out on top. The world’s best 3 runners ran together for the first 19 km of the race, but once the competitors reached an uphill portion of the route, Bekele pushed himself out front. In the last 400 meters, Farah started to chase down Bekele, but the Ethiopian had built a big enough lead to hold off the current Olympic champion by one second. Haile Gebrselassie finished third.
Although Farah made a good case for switching to the marathon in the future, he still did not feel completely satisfied with his result: “I’m disappointed but I was second to a great athlete. I thought I could come back. It came to the last 200m, right to the line. It was a great race and a great finish.” Farah should feel no shame in placing second to Bekele. The two men are the only ones in racing history to hold both the 5k and 10k meter titles at the Olympics and World Championships at the same time, and Bekele has been described as having “the most amazing natural talent ever in athletics”.
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