Six in a Row for Mo! Kenyan Team Tactics Not Enough To Stop The Invincible Mo Farah in Men’s 10,000

American Galen Rupp Finishes 5th in 27:08.91 – 4th fastest American 10,000 in History

August 22, 2015

BEIJING – The athletes in next Saturday’s 5,000-meter final might want to reach out to Lex Luthor and see if he has any spare kryptonite lying around. Because after Mo Farah’s victory in the 10,000 meters tonight at the 2015 IAAF World Championships, his opponents are running out of ways to challenge him.

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Since Farah’s defeat in the 10,000 at the IAAF World Championships four years ago in Daegu — where Farah, still unaccustomed to his role as the favorite, made a tactical error by making his move too early and the unheralded Ibrahim Jeilan took advantage — Farah has run six 5,000/10,000 finals between Worlds and the Olympics and won them all.

Until tonight, no one had tried to make Farah win in a truly honest race. His 5,000 titles were won in 13:23, 13:41 and 13:26; his 10,000s in 27:30 and 27:21. That 10,000 in Daegu was the fastest of them all (Jeilan won in 27:13), quick but not ridiculously so.

That changed tonight, as the Kenyan trio of Geoffrey Kamworor, Paul Tanui and Bedan Karoki traded off the pace for the first 23 ¾ laps and threw everything they could at Farah before Farah finally seized the lead for good. Despite the Kenyans’ best efforts to drive the pace on a warm, breezy 79-degree night at the Bird’s Nest, Farah’s trademark kick was still there when he needed it as he produced a 54.2-second last lap that no one — not Kamworor, not Tanui, perhaps not Superman himself — could match. The time was faster than his last 5 World/Olympic finals (27:01.13, the third-fastest winning time in the history of these championships) but the outcome was the same, another gold medal for Farah to add to his formidable collection.

Kamworor, the World Cross Country champion in March, led more laps than anyone else and was rewarded for his efforts with the silver (27:01.76) with Tanui (3rd, 27:02.83) and Karoki (4th, 27:04.77) following close behind. American Galen Rupp, the only other man to hang with the leaders until the bell, came through in fifth (27:08.91), but whether it was the heat, the fast pace or something else, his kick wasn’t there and he could only close in 61 seconds for the final lap.

Farah leads at the bell

Farah leads at the bell

The Race

Kamworor went to the lead from the gun and it quickly became apparent that the Kenyan talk of team tactics, unlike the environment in the Bird’s Nest, was not hot air. After a modest 2:18 first 800, Karoki took the lead on lap three and reeled off a 65.96; the pace would not rise above 66.00 for the remainder of the race. At 3200 meters (8:47), Farah still remained situated toward the back of the pack, but as he realized the Kenyans meant business, he worked his way toward the front as the leaders hit 5,000 in 13:40.82.

After another pair of 64-second laps, the lead group, 13 men at 4400 meters, was down to five a mile later — Kamworor, Tanui, Rupp, Farah and Karoki. And that’s how it stayed until the bell. Karoki and Kamworor alternated 64- and 65-second laps like clockwork, with Tanui occasionally straying to the front only to be overhauled by one of his countrymen within 200 meters.

Shortly before 7,400 meters, Farah briefly tried to take the lead but Kamworor was having none of it, responding immediately by passing him right back. Farah tried this twice more, on laps 22 and 23, but both times Kamworor’s response was just as swift.

The good news for the Kenyans was that Farah was not dictating the race as he often has in the past. The bad news is that with 500 meters to go, they had created zero separation between themselves and the 3:28 1500 man Farah. It was at that point that Farah moved in earnest, and this time Kamworor could not retake the lead as a 61-second penultimate lap brought the five leaders to the bell with Farah in the lead. Farah briefly lost his balance as he clipped Kamworor as they maneuvered around a lapped runner on the first turn of the final lap, and though he was momentarily slowed, he never surrendered the lead. With 300 to go, Farah hit the gas again and Kamworor was the only one to go with him at first, though Tanui had joined them by the end of the back straight. Karoki could not answer, while Rupp could not reach the gear he showed in London three years ago and fell off the back.

Farah 6 in a Row

Farah 6 in a Row

With 150 to go, the stage was set for a thrilling finish, as Tanui was accelerating rapidly around the outside of Farah and Kamworor. Could he actually swing by Farah?

No. In a finish that mirrored the Prefontaine Classic three months earlier, Farah was simply too good in the final 100 and ran away from Tanui and Kamworor, celebrating passionately before even crossing the finish line. Tanui and Kamworor inverted their places from Pre (appropriate because this time it was Kamworor, not Tanui, who did the bulk of the work) while Karoki managed fourth and Rupp came home fifth.

Abrar Osman of Eritrea was sixth in 27:43.21, over 34 seconds back of Rupp. The other Americans, Hassan Mead and Shadrack Kipchirchir ran together almost the entire race and appropriately finished with the same exact time (28:16:30), Mead barely edging Kipchirchir for 15th place.

Video Highlights for US Visitors:

Quick Thought #1: History awaits Mo Farah on August 29

Pl. Athlete / Team Cnt. Result
1 Mo FARAH GBR 27:01.13
2 Geoffrey KAMWOROR KEN 27:01.76
3 Paul Kipngetich TANUI KEN 27:02.83
4 Bitan KAROKI KEN 27:04.77
5 Galen RUPP USA 27:08.91
6 Abrar Osman ADEM ERI 27:43.21
7 Ali KAYA TUR 27:43.69
8 Timothy TOROITICH UGA 27:44.90
9 Joshua CHEPTEGEI UGA 27:48.89
10 Muktar EDRIS ETH 27:54.47
11 Mosinet GEREMEW ETH 28:07.50
12 El Hassan EL ABBASSI BRN 28:12.57
13 Nguse AMLOSOM ERI 28:14.72
14 Cameron LEVINS CAN 28:15.19
15 Hassan MEAD USA 28:16.30
16 Shadrack KIPCHIRCHIR USA 28:16.30
17 Arne GABIUS GER 28:24.47
18 Tetsuya YOROIZAKA JPN 28:25.77
19 Teklemariam MEDHIN ERI 28:39.26
20 Stephen MOKOKA RSA 28:47.40
21 Aweke AYALEW BRN 29:14.55
22 Kenta MURAYAMA JPN 29:50.22
23 Yuta SHITARA JPN 30:08.35

One week from tonight, Farah will toe the line in the 5,000-meter final with a chance to become the first man to complete the 5,000/10,000 double at three consecutive global championships. While his PRs (12:53/26:46) aren’t close to all-time greats like Bekele or Haile Gebrselassie, if Farah can win the double again in Rio next year — giving him four straight 5,000/10,000 doubles — we’ll have to revisit the argument we had in February between ourselves about whether Farah can be considered the Greatest of All Time even if the double is easier now than it was back in Haile’s time as there are no rounds in the 10,000.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. In this sport, we are constantly looking forward and sometimes it clouds what athletes have already accomplished. Three straight global 10,000 titles is something that only Bekele and Geb had ever pulled off, and anytime you’re in their company, you know you’ve done something special.

Farah faced immense pressure this year, not only as the defending world and Olympic champ, but also because of his link to Alberto Salazar, who faced drug accusations earlier this summer. For him to come through and defend his title, even as the heavy favorite, was incredibly impressive.

The win tonight definitely enhanced Farah’s legacy as critics had pointed he’d never won a truly honest race – that cannot be said any more.

Most combined 5,000/10,000 wins at Olympics/Worlds, all-time
Kenenisa Bekele, 8
Mo Farah, 6
Haile Gebrselassie, 6
Lasse Viren, 4
Emil Zatopek, 3
Paavo Nurmi, 3

Now that’s a list.

QT#2: Mo Farah is the oldest 10,000 meter world champion (again)

When Farah won gold in Moscow two years ago at age 30, he became the oldest man to take home the 10,000 title at the World Championships. Now 32, Farah broke that record again with his performance tonight.

It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Mo Farah’s ascendance to the greatest distance runner in the world is totally unprecedented. Prior to Farah, the oldest-ever world champion in the men’s 10,000 was Kenenisa Bekele at age 27 in 2009. Haile Gebrselassie won his last global 10,000 title at the 2000 Olympics at age 27 as well.

When Farah was 27 in 2010, he had never won a world title and was just starting to join the ranks of the global elite, claiming double European gold at 5,000 and 10,000 and breaking the British record at 5,000 by running 12:57. The next year, at age 28, Farah truly broke out by running 12:53, 26:46 and winning Worlds in the 5,000.

The point: essentially all of Farah’s major accomplishments have come at 27 or later — an age when most world-class 10,000 guys are already cooked. However, if you factor in that African ages are not always reliable (and the 12 winners of the 10,000 at Worlds before Farah were all African), that may help partially explain Farah’s greatness at an advanced age. Some of the previous African champs (like Haile G) were likely older than their stated age.

At the post-race press conference, Farah said he remembers watching Kenenise Bekele dominate world cross country and hoping he could just win one medal one day. Once he won, he has more than kept winning them, but he said it isn’t easy.

He also said if he was designing a tactic to beat himself, the fast team type race was one he would have tried. Farah said he attempted to actually take the lead a few times to try and get the Kenyans to go even faster to string it out just a little because he felt jostled by the Kenyans.

Mo Farah Audio (6 Minutes with British Press and LRC)

Full Press Conference With Top 3

QT #3: The Kenyan team tactics weren’t enough to beat Farah – But Kenyans Considered Them a Success

Karoki was the lone Kenyan not to come away with a medal tonight but you wouldn’t have been able to tell that based on his post-race reaction.

“It was very good….I am very happy for working as a team,” Karoki said.

He said that he was pleased that Kenya secured 2-3-4, but I countered by asking if he was a little disappointed that none of them could defeat Farah.

“No no no we are not disappointed. But next year, God willing, in the Olympics we are going to train hard and see whether we can conquer.”

When we asked Kamworor what he needs to do to beat Farah, he simply said “sharpen the speed.” Kamworor’s best bet to beat Farah is just to let time pass. Kamworor is only 22 and this was his first world championship on the track. He’s about to enter his prime. Farah is 32.

So just let time pass or get the IAAF to hold worlds at altitude – Kamworor would be favored at altitude in our mind.

We also spoke to Kamworor on video and he said his focus will be on beating Farah on the track in Rio next year even though after the race it was announced Kamworor will be running this year’s New York City Marathon. Kamworor says he is best at cross-country, but he also is very good at the roads (world half-marathon champ) and now the track. He was trying to become the first with a global 10,000m, XC and world-half title.

He also said at the post-race press conference while he was pleased with his run, “Competition is about winning.”

QT #4: Galen Rupp has nothing to be ashamed of

After the race, Rupp sat dejectedly on the track by the finish line only spoke briefly to the press. The interview is embedded below and he said he was disappointed he didn’t medal.

“I’m definitely disappointed. I’m not going to lie. I was really hoping for a top three finish at least. I just didn’t quite have it today – nothing more than that,” said Rupp.

When you’ve medalled before, anything short of another medal is going to be viewed as a bit of failure, but maybe it shouldn’t be. The fact of the matter is in less than ideal conditions, Rupp ran the 4th-fastest 5000 in American history – a time that only one American (Chris Solinsky) has ever bettered.

Rupp actually ran faster tonight in warm conditions than he did just 5 plus years ago on that special night in Palo Alto when Chris Solinsky ran 26:59.60 under ideal conditions and Rupp also dipped under Meb Kelfezighi’s old American record of 27:13.98. We asked Farah at the press conference what the difference between himself and Rupp was, and he said not much, mainly experience.

The Fastest 6 10,000s in US History

1.    26:44.36   Galen Rupp                    USA     08.05.86    1      Eugene                  2014
2.    26:48.00   Galen Rupp                     USA     08.05.86    3      Bruxelles               2011
3.    26:59.60   Chris Solinsky                 USA     05.12.84    1r1    Palo Alto               2010
4.    27:08.91   Galen Rupp                     USA     08.05.86    5      Beijing                   Tonight
5.    27:10.74   Galen Rupp                     USA     08.05.86    4r1    Palo Alto               2010
6.    27:13.98   Mebrahtom Keflezighi       USA     05.05.75    4rA    Palo Alto             2001

The race tonight was just a higher quality race than was the 2012 Olympic 10,000 final. In London, in a 27:30 race, Mo Farah won by running his last 1600 in 4:08 and closing in 53.42. Tonight in a 27 flat race, Farah’s last 1600 was 4:05.6 and he his last 400 was 54.2.

QT #5: Hassan Mead was disappointed with his 15th-place finish

The other two Americans in this one – Hassan Mead and Shadrack Kipchirchir – both actually ran the same time (28:16.30) and finished 15th and 16th respectively. We caught up with former Minnesota star Hassan Mead, now with the Oregon Track Club, and he was disappointed with his showing as he said he’s in great shape. He said he was still with the main pack until about 4k when he developed a side-stitch that he thought might have been the result of sipping too much water. The final 6k was tough with a stitch. As for the conditions, Mead said he wasn’t shocked by the 27:01 winning time. He said he thought the winning time coming in might be around 26:50 and he said he was hoping to run 27:20-30 (a time that would in hindsight have placed him 6th). Mead’s season isn’t over. He’ll head to Brussels to run a 5000 and then hopefully end his season at the 5th Avenue mile. Mead doesn’t think a 5000 pb is likely in Brussels as he’s been working on strength, not speed but thinks sub 13:10 is doable.

Separate audio interview with Mead here:

Paul Tanui Bronze
Tanui got his second 10,000m bronze and was making a big move with 150m to go after earlier in the race being unable to hold the lead for a full lap at times. The difference? The wind. Tanui said the wind really bothered him as he is a smaller guy.

Shadrack Kirchirchir after First Worlds

Discuss this great race in our world famous fan forum: *Official 2015 Worlds Men’s 10,000 Discussion Thread
*Cam Levins 28:15 for 14th. WHAT IS GOING ON?
*Should Rupp move up to Marathon for 2016?
Pre-Race: The Pre-Race Official M10,000 Discussion Thread: Can Geoffrey Kamworor (or anyone) stop Mo Farah? Can Galen Rupp medal again?

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