LONDON, England 30 July – Mo Farah, Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie are to race in this year’s Great North Run in northeast England, organisers said on Tuesday, calling the line-up the “greatest head-to-head in half-marathon history”.
“We’ve had many fantastic races down the Newcastle to South Shields course in past years but this will be a competition everyone in the athletics world will want to watch,” said race founder Brendan Foster.
“No one could ask for a better ‘dream team’ to participate in their event and we are delighted they will feature in what has the makings of the greatest head-to-head in half marathon history,” the 1976 Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist added.
The Great North Run, to be held this year on September 15, began as a local fun run in 1981 and has grown to become one of the world’s biggest mass participation road races.
Farah, the reigning 5,000m and 10,000m Olympic champion, has a personal best in the half-marathon of 1hr 00.23secs and will be aiming to be the first home-grown winner of the Great North Run since Steve Kenyon in 1985.
The 30-year-old Farah, who is targeting a marathon debut in London next year, has only ever raced twice over 13.1 miles (21.1 kilometres), winning both times.
Ethiopian distance legend Gerbselassie is a two-time Olympic 10,000m gold medallist (1996, 2000) and won the World Championships at the distance four times from 1993 to 1999.
He held the marathon world record and has a personal half-marathon best of 58.55mins.
The 40-year-old won the Great North Run three years ago in 59.33mins.
His compatriot Bekele won 10,000m gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics and Beijing four years later, where he also did the double at the 5,000m.
He also won world championship gold at 10,000m four times (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009) and was world cross country champion six times between 2002 and 2008.
Like Farah, Bekele, 31, is now making the transition to road-running and plans to step up to the marathon.