ITEN, Kenya, January 31- As he has grown to be accustomed to, the ‘Mo-Bot’ received undulating attention on his media day out in his adopted home of Iten on Friday with the scenic Kenyan Rift Valley providing a fitting backdrop.
Britain’s double Olympics and World Champion over 5000m and 10000m is all the rave with his mega full marathon debut in London on April 13 providing another intriguing chapter in his continuing evolution as one of the finest distance runners in history.
“I’m excited about the race since there are many tough guys like the world record holder, Wilson Kipsang, in there. I asked Wilson the other day why he decided to run so fast and make it difficult for us all,” the London and Moscow double gold winner stated in reference to the Kenyan standard bearer who blasted to 2:03:24 in Berlin last fall.
While getting to interview the Ayatollah of British distance running for local scribes was as hard as beating him in a race, the man who is leading the team of over 6000 volunteers and staff to put together the April 13 spectacle, race director, Hugh Brasher, looked on intently as the headline act went about his media obligations.
Capital Sport caught up with him as he shed light on what the potentially historic 2014 edition of the World Marathon Majors event will serve up to a global audience.
“That would be amazing! It’s gonna be tough and who knows what will happen. Wilson Kipsang just broke the world record in Berlin; Geoffrey Mutai ran the fastest marathon, Emmanuel Mutai, the list goes on.
“We would love a British winner but remember, this is Mo’s first marathon and it’s a whole different world, so we are not putting that pressure on him but he is definitely putting it on himself but we are looking forward to it,”
Brasher said of the prospect of the draw for 2014 amid a formidable cast of the best distance runners anywhere making a dream winning debut.
Faced by a field that includes three athletes who have run under 2:04 in Kipsang, course record holder Emmanuel Mutai (2:03:52/2013) and New York winner, Geoffrey Mutai (2:03:02/2012), Brasher forecast they would push Farah to obliterate the long-standing British record of 2:07:13 in the classic distance race as the more realistic target for the first timer.
“It’s been 29 years since Steve Jones did it in Chicago in 1985, so it is the longest standing record in the books. If Mo takes it, he will hold every single metric record from 1,500m to the marathon and that has never been done in British history,” the race director explained.
Instead of crafting an easier route to crown the first British winner of the men’s race since Eammon Martin in 1993, Brasher’s predecessor, David Bedford, who is in charge of the elite field, signed on the best available competition to take on the home favourite.
“London always tries to have the most competitive race. Most said last year’s line-up was the best ever and they are saying this one is better still. It will be a fantastic race,” Brasher said.
“The world is waiting for Farah, the double Olympics and world medallist to make his debut. Mo is the head of British distance running, he has done things no other British athlete has done.
“For him to running in front of the London crowds replicating London 2012 the atmosphere was electric, it was important that we have him running in front of his adoring crowd,” the race director elaborated on why they chased and got the signature of the poster boy of the country’s distance running for the half marathon last year and the full distance this term.
With defending champion, Tsegay Kebede (Ethiopia), world and Olympics titleholder, Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) and the exciting debut of Ibrahim Jeilan among other studs in the mix, Brasher does not rule out an assault on the 2:03:24 benchmark.
“I think it’s possible, it just depends on how they feel on the day. The pace will be there, these are the best athletes in the world and it will be a fascinating race,” he posited on a world record belonging to London since 2002 when American Khalid Khannouchi ran 2:05:38.
With Farah’s female equivalent, Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, also making a first splash over the distance, the race organiser says the women’s race that will feature defending champion, Priscah Jeptoo and two-time world champion, Edna Kiplagat, promises to set off like confetti as well.
“It will be difficult to focus on one thing, there will be so many stories and it will be such an amazing day.”
Despite the numerous plots, sub plots and the date with destiny for the elite fields, it will all be dwarfed by how the ‘Mo-bot’ fares on the grandest home stage since he spellbound the Olympics.
“For me, I’m not worried about the expectations, my aim is to go there and have fun. The average for top marathoners has been brought to 2:04 and can I do that? I’m not so sure,” Farah told one of the reporters.
Decked in his favourite’s team Arsenal FC shirt that he threw over a Team GB jumper for television interviews,
Farah stated took time to urge them to bag the English Premiership title.
“I gave them one of my gold medals and they now have the winning touch.”
On April 13, he and Arsene Wenger, the manager of his beloved Gunners will have a better idea of their prospects for glory but the athlete desires a simple legacy.
“In 100 years, I want to be remembered just as Mo, the easy, fun loving guy who did the best he could.”