Farah relishing showdown with Olympic marathon champion

Sir Mo Farah claims he is still hungry for success as he prepares for what could be an epic showdown on London's streets this weekend.

Farah might be Britain’s most decorated athlete with four Olympic golds and six world titles on his CV but when it comes to the marathon, he admits to still being a novice.

This weekend will only be his fourth race over the 26-mile distance and while he beat the British record when finishing third 12 months ago, and won his first Abbott World Marathon Major title in Chicago last October, success is far from guaranteed.

In his way stands one of the greatest fields ever assembled, including Eliud Kipchoge, who is seeking a record fourth men’s Virgin Money London Marathon win.

Without doubt the greatest of all-time over the distance, he has won 11 of the 12 marathons he has competed in – indeed it took a world record to inflict that solitary defeat.

He won the Olympic marathon in Rio three years ago and his two hour, one minute, 39 seconds world record time in Berlin last September broke the previous mark by 78 seconds, the greatest improvement since 1967.

“I’m still learning, marathons are completely different to the track and racing against Eliud, I’ve learned the hard way that is tough,” said Farah.

“I wake up in the morning and I’m still hungry. I’m really nervous and excited and I feel like I’ve got my mojo back.

“Perhaps Eliud has more pressure than me, even though I’m at home in London. I just have to run smart and see where that gets me.

“I understand people expect me to win, I don’t line up in any race to finish third or fourth but sometimes you are beaten by the better man and you need to accept that. I look up to Eliud, he has done amazing things for the marathon and I can only learn from the best.

“However, I’m stronger than last year. As an athlete you have to change things and with each marathon we move things around and my coach is pretty comfortable with where I’m at, there is nothing more I think we could have done.

“My aim is to win this race one day but you can take nothing for granted in a field like this.

“It’s great for the sport to have races like this. I know I’ve won a lot of medals on the track but this is the next chapter of my career, I believe I can win major marathons.”

Farah will need a big improvement on his two hour, five minutes and 11 second European record if Kipchoge gets close to the London course record - two minutes and six seconds faster – that he set three years ago.

Since winning his preparation race at the Big Half in London - where blustery conditions didn’t help times - Farah has been training with his team in Ethiopia and certainly gives the impression he’s enjoying his running perhaps more than ever.

His win in Chicago was from his track racing playbook, controlling the pace, almost toying with his rivals, and then kicking for home to crush them with a trademark injection of speed.

In contrast, Kipchoge prefers a blistering start, before hitting the front and seeing those around him slowly fade.

“We are still talking about the pace,” said Kipchoge, though speculation is he’d like to go through halfway around the 61-minute mark.

“All is well and I’m excited to be back at a race I love, I’m ready to compete and I’m fit.

“Getting all the top guys in this race is a positive thing for our sport and great for the fans.”

Sportsbeat 2019