June 30, 2013
Track and field doesn’t get any better than the men’s 5000m at the 2013 Sainsbury’s Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday afternoon.
Mo Farah, the double Olympic champion, and his two chief Ethiopians rivals Hagos Gebrhiwet and Yenew Alamirew, had a ferocious three way sprint the final 400m before a packed, loud British crowd.
To the delight of the crowd, Farah was once again too brilliant over the final 200m, as he ran it in 25.8 to win in 13:14.24. Alamirew battled the longest with Farah making it interesting until the final straight before succumbing to Farah’s relentless pressure. Farah’s final lap was 53.40 and his final 800m a superb 1:51.0.
Gebrhiwet and Alamirew, facing Farah jointly for the first time in 2013, threw a 1-2 punch at Farah and they couldn’t beat him.
If the world wants to beat Mo Farah, they’re going to have to come up with another tactic than doing it in a sprint at the end of a slow race.
The Race (*Video Highlights)
Most of the race was simply a prelude to the superb final 800m. Each kilometer until the final one was slower than the one before it 2:36.9, 2:38.5, 2:43.6, 2:52.2 as the field was content to let this one come down to the kick.
Brit Chris Thompson led with 800m to go and even opened a slight gap on the field, but that is when Gebrhiwet, Farah, and Alamirew decided it was time to battle.
The pace really picked up on the straight heading into the bell. Gebrhiwet battled Farah for the pole and got it as they split 57.99 that lap (Gebrhiwet and Farah had been back a little with 1200 to go so they split closer to 57.6). It was clearly a three-man race between the three stars with Gebrhiwet in the lead in lane one, Farah outside of him and Alamirew tucked in behind.
The remained that way around the bend, and on the backstretch it got really interesting. All three were moving with a purpose. Gebrhiwet was trying to maintain the pole position. Farah was trying to pass him on the outside and take lane one before the final curve. Alamirew was moving the fastest trying to come up from behind and go wide and pass Farah, possibly cutting him off before the final turn.
Farah was too strong and got to 200m to go first, with a quarter step lead on Gebrhiwet. Alamirew was still moving up right next to Farah trying to go wide. Farah couldn’t completely cut Gebrhiwet off in lane 1, but gradually around the final bend he would assume lane 1 from Gebrhiwet. Alamirew was on the outside running a little extra distance trying to pass Farah.
As they hit the final straight Gebrhiwet was done, but Farah and Alamirew were side by side. Farah was just too good the final 100m. This one was far from easy, but on the homestretch Farah even had just enough time to do the Mo Bot right before the finish. The three men had put on a tremendous battle the final 300m, with Mo Farah triumphing.
Victory was Farah’s, the crowd went nuts, and there is no doubt who the favorite for the World Championships is. It’s the greatest distance runner currently on the planet, Mo Farah.
Farah afterwards said on the BBC this was all about winning. “The younger guys wanted to beat me, I’m the man to beat. I had to dig in deep…It was important to come out here and win the race,” said Farah on re-establishing himself as the Worlds favorite after his loss at Pre. As for the final lap he said, “You’ve gotta hold your form and make sure you have something left.”
QT #1: This was a tremendous race too watch. The three stars battling side by side by side with 200m to go before a packed house and national TV in Britain.
QT #2: If it comes down to a kick on a slow pace, Mo Farah will win. The World needs to come up with a different strategy if it wants to beat Mo. The problem is everyone thinks they have a chance in a Championship race, and who wants to make themselves the sacrificial lamb by trying to make the pace more honest?
Even Farah was hypothesizing how they might try and beat him at Worlds when he said after the race, “These guys will go back home and they know they tried to race me over the last lap today and they know they don’t want to leave it to the last lap (in Moscow). They’ll probably sacrifice someone to go hard somewhere. Even today they were talking today amongst each other, the three Ethiopians.”
QT #3: This wasn’t the first time Farah and Alamirew had raced this year. Farah actually beat Alamirew by a larger margin at Pre, than he did here. So don’t totally count out the young Ethiopian. For Farah to lose, the field is going to have to disrupt Farah’s superb racing tactics somehow. If Farah has a clean shot to the finish and not boxed in, we don’t see him losing.