Mo Farah demonstrated his well-being yet again during the early stages of the 2015 athletics season by claiming victory at the Lisbon Half-Marathon in a European record time of 59 minutes and 32 seconds, which follows his two mile indoor World record breaking performance in Birmingham just a few weeks earlier. For an athlete sometimes criticised for just winning titles but rarely running fast times, these displays will silence a few of his detractors but his winning time in Lisbon was over a minute slower than the World record time of 59 minutes 23 seconds set by Zersenay Tadese when he won the same event in 2010.
Yet the British athlete will not be too concerned at failing to lower the World mark, with the World Athletics Championships in Beijing destined to his prime target for the season. However, his victory in Lisbon does resemble his performance when winning the Great North Run in England back in September.
During that race from Newcastle to South Shields, Farah eventually beat Mike Kigen after the Kenyan athlete had set quite a demanding pace for the 13.1 miles distance. However, Kigen is a training partner of Farah at the Pace Sports Management camp based in Kenya and Micah Kogo, who was second to the British athlete in Lisbon, is a member of the same organisation and a good friend.
Sceptics will argue that Farah has persuaded his training partners to act as pacemakers and then used his renowned finishing pace to claim victory at the finale of these road races, but most long-distance running events on the road are now characterised by athletes purposefully selected for their front-running skills with the aim of helping the more favoured performers to run a fast time.
The races in both Lisbon and Newcastle were no different from any other city half and full marathon races with Kogo and fellow Kenyan Stephen Kibet leading the field for much of the course with Farah content to bide his time a few seconds behind. When Kibet finally wilted, Farah closed the gap to move alongside Kogo, and despite his training partner appearing to increase the pace with just a kilometre remaining, the British athlete produced his infamous finishing burst with less than 200 metres remaining to clinch the victory by just one second.
By winning at Lisbon and in Birmingham, Farah has not only proved a capability to run fast times but also his well-being after a winter training programme primarily designed to supplement his stamina levels for what is expected to be another demanding season. He will not be competing at the 2015 London Marathon after his relative failure at the event last year when finishing only eighth, but his track rivals for this season have now been warned that Mo Farah appears in decent form to defend his 5,000 and 10,000 World titles later in the summer.
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