British runner comments about running half of the London Marathon this weekend.
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
LONDON — Mo Farah faced perhaps the largest pre-race assembly of reporters to attend a Virgin London Marathon press conference since Paula Radcliffe’s heyday, and he said his decision to run only half the race here Sunday was an easy one.
“It’s a no-brainer, really,” said Farah, who had more than a dozen television cameras recording his every word.
Surely, his is the most expensive marathon appearance fee to be paid to an athlete who has committed — to both the organizers and his coach, Alberto Salazar — that he will not finish the race. While experts dismiss the estimate given by the Daily Mail in a published report last month at $1.1 million as improbable, it is certain that it is comfortably in the six figures, something organizers have steadfastly refused to confirm.
“The Virgin London Marathon has not, and does not comment on athlete appearance fees,” said former race director Dave Bedford, who was instrumental in signing Farah to the two-year deal that includes his running the full marathon next year in his actual debut.
But in making his “no-brainer” comment, Farah was expressing primarily how logical this move was for his development as an athlete, both this year and in the future. He said that he was not yet ready to compete in a full marathon, and that running one now would be counter-productive to his central goals this year of winning the 5000m and 10,000m world titles to back up the same feat he achieved here last August during the Olympic Games.
“I definitely want to test myself on the marathon,” Farah told reporters. “I’m not ready this year, but my aim is to learn from this year. So, next year I’m ready to go.
“I want to run, I want to get the feel of it. That’s the honest truth.”
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Farah, who turned 30 last month, said that he wasn’t aware of the pacing schedule organizers had arranged (1:01:45 is planned for the first half), but that he simply intended to run with the lead group. He said he would do his best to focus on the feel of the race course and the technical details, like picking up his special drinks at the elite fluid stations and getting comfortable running fast in such a big pack.
“I don’t know what the pace is, but my aim is to just stay with the pack,” Farah said. “I’m only here to learn. I’m always learning something in a way. For me, it’s just trying to learn.”
Farah said that he wasn’t sure if his move to the full marathon in 2014 would signal the end of his illustrious track career where, in addition to his Olympic medals, he was the world 5000m champion in 2011 and has won six European titles.
It just all depends on what the coach says,” Farah said. “For me, I’m still a track runner. It all depends on how well it goes. I like the track.”
British bookmaker Stan James has Farah at 25:1 to win the race. Farah said that would be a bad bet and that people with money to burn should consider a donation to his foundation instead.
“I just noticed I’m a 25 to 1 favorite to finish the race,” Farah told reporters. “That’s not going to happen. I’m definitely not going to finish it.”