This weekend the London Marathon sees the potential for at least a new men’s British Record. The current record of 2:07:13 was set in Chicago, by World Record Holder, Steve Jones, way back in 1985. The Welshman had plenty of other Britain’s chasing him including Charlie Spedding, who also remains as the current English Record holder with a time of a little over 2 hours and 8 minutes.
By comparison the current World Record is held by Wilson Kipsang (Ken) with 2 hours 3 minutes 23 seconds on the super fast Berlin circuit, in 2013. So with the demise of men’s marathon racing in the last 25 years there is much pressure on the slender shoulders of Mo Farah.
The general public will probably expect the usual. A Farah win, in his usual style. A slow wind up of pace through the race and then a devastating kick over the last 800 metres. All of his closest rivals will be watching and waiting, almost fearful of that devastating finish. But that is the track, with distances of 5k and 10k, whereas this is the Marathon and a distance of 42k.
I suspect his rivals will be less fearful, it is an experienced field with four of the World’s finest Marathon runners toeing the start line. They know what is like to run a Marathon for the first time and they know few make an immediate impact, although it has happened.
The race will, no doubt suit Farah early on. Certainly to half way, may be as far as 20 miles. Then the racing will really start in earnest and that track speed will be required just to stay in contention. He will soon realise he is in a race.
Under coach Alberta Salazar, Farah has made dramatic progress. Salazar, brings true big-time marathon racing experience to the party, a massive plus for Farah. As part of his build up it has been reported that Farah has covered the distance in training, not yet at race pace and running a major international event will still be one heck of an eye opener. It could be argued that a low key marathon may have been a better experience, but Farah is a lion. He shirks nothing, always taking responsibility and prepared to fight for every second in a race. He will need to be brave, tenacious and strong.
Yet what should the public expect? Those with comfy armchairs may well expect nothing less than a win. In truth, as with any ‘Virgin’ Marathon runner he must complete first, gain experience and harden his body for future onslaughts and big races. The road is so different to the track. Then the gaining ‘of experience’ will be so important, of tactics and pace and of fellow contenders.
I think we should all be excited about the prospect of a new British Marathon Record and the future prospects of British Marathon Running. Bring it on. I don’t think that this is to much to ask, is it? As with everything racing, we will just have to wait and see. To have a British runner at London who may just contend this year is a bonus, but we must remember this is Farah’s first Marathon.
We all, I am sure, wish him well and we will all be hoping… you just never know.