2017 Worlds Men’s 5,000 Final Preview: Mo Farah Tries to Complete His Fifth Straight Distance Double

by LetsRun.com
August 11, 2017

LONDON – Now that Wednesday night’s preliminary round is in the books, the men’s 5,000 final at the 2017 IAAF World Championships is set. Given the fact that the men’s 5000 was the only men’s distance race that we didn’t preview before the World Championships started, we take a quick look at how the final breaks down below.

The main storyline remains is the same as it has been for the past five years: can anyone stop Mo Farah in his bid to complete the 5,000/10,000 double? Farah has already swept the 5k and 10k at the 2012 Olympics, 2013 Worlds, 2015 Worlds, and 2016 Olympics and is halfway to another sweep thanks to his victory in the 10,000 last Friday. Another win in Saturday’s 5,000 final would give him five straight sweeps and six straight wins in the 5,000, both of which would be unprecedented accomplishments for a distance runner. This will also be the last chance for the rest of the world to catch Farah on the track in a global championship as he’s moving up to the marathon (supposedly for good) after this season.

Race Time: 3:20 p.m. ET, Saturday, August 12

2016 Olympic results
1. Mo Farah, Great Britain 13:03.30
2. Paul Chelimo, USA 13:03.90
3. Hagos Gebrhiwet, Ethiopia 13:04.35
4. Moh Ahmed, Canada 13:05.94
5. Bernard Lagat, USA 13:06.78

2017’s fastest performers (among men entered)
1. Muktar Edris, Ethiopia 12:55.23
2. Selemon Barega, Ethiopia 12:55.58
3. Mo Farah, Great Britain 13:00.70
4. Yomif Kejelcha, Ethiopia 13:01.21
5. Cyrus Rutto, Kenya 13:03.44

Start list

1 950 Andrew BUTCHART GBRGBR 13:11.45 13:08.61
2 852 Aron KIFLE ERIERI 13:13.31 13:13.31
3 734 Birhanu BALEW BRNBRN 13:09.93 13:09.26
4 954 Mohamed FARAH GBRGBR 13:00.70 12:53.11
5 1402 Ryan HILL USAUSA 13:07.61i 13:05.69
6 896 Muktar EDRIS ETHETH 12:55.23 12:54.83
7 899 Yomif KEJELCHA ETHETH 13:01.21 12:53.98
8 1076 Kemoy CAMPBELL JAMJAM 13:14.45i 13:14.45i
9 655 Patrick TIERNAN AUSAUS 13:13.44 13:13.44
10 1382 Paul Kipkemoi CHELIMO USAUSA 13:08.62 13:03.90
11 758 Justyn KNIGHT CANCAN 13:17.51 13:17.51
12 850 Awet HABTE ERIERI 13:16.09 13:16.09
13 893 Selemon BAREGA ETHETH 12:55.58 12:55.58
14 1147 Cyrus RUTTO KENKEN 13:03.44 13:03.44
15 749 Mohammed AHMED CANCAN 13:04.60i 13:01.74

Who Could Beat Mo Farah?

If you’ve been watching the World Championships or Olympics during the last six years, you know why Farah is the favorite. He’s won 10 straight global championship finals, combining the strength of a 59:32 half marathoner with the kick of a 3:28 1500 guy. Farah did look a little banged-up after running 26:49 to win a taxing 10,000, entering the press conference with a bandage around his leg, but he said after Wednesday’s 5000 first round that the biggest problem he faces in doubling back is fatigue — which shouldn’t be an issue with three days of rest between the 5,000 prelims and the 5,000 final. Once again, there’s no secret tactic to beating Farah, who is a good tactician, has strong endurance and a lethal kick. Outkicking seems like a hopeless cause as does running away from him early as to break open a non-rabbited 5000 mid-race you have to be significantly fitter than everyone else. Remember, Almaz Ayana couldn’t even do it in the women’s 5000 last year after she ran her sensational WR in the 10000 as she was ultimately run down from behind.

While there are a half-dozen or more guys who could conceivably medal in this race, there are only four guys on paper who can challenge Farah for gold — the three Ethiopians, world leader Muktar Edris, World Indoor champ Yomif Kejelcha and World U20 champ Selemon Barega — and America’s Paul Chelimo, the Olympic silver medalist. The Ethiopians have succeeded in fast races on the 2017 Diamond League circuit, as shown below:

6th Doha 3k (7:40)
1st Paris 3k (7:32)
1st Lausanne 5k (12:55 WL)

3rd Doha 3k (7:32)
2nd Eugene 5k (13:01)
3rd Paris 3k (7:33)

2nd Lausanne 5k (12:55)

Last year in Rio, Ethiopians Dejen Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet worked together to get the pace going and it makes sense for their countrymen to do it again in London, even if neither Gebremeskel nor Gebrhiwet are in the race. Edris, Kejelcha and Barega are all adept at kicking off a fast pace, and a fast pace also will drive off some of the other medal contenders. Edris didn’t join Gebremeskel and Gebrhiwet in pushing the pace last year, but considering he crossed the line 4th in that race (before being DQ’d), perhaps he will change his mind this year.

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It’s interesting as we can make an argument for why all of them might be the most likely man to beat Farah and will do so now.

Why Muktar Edris is the Ethiopian most likely to beat Farah: He’s the world leader at 5000 this year. He also won the stacked Paris 3k over Ronald Kwemoi.

Why Muktar Edris is not likely to beat Farah: He’s the oldest of the Ethiopians at a listed age of 23 and has been coming up short to Farah and at Worlds/Olympics in the past. In 2013, 2015 and 2016 he’s competed at the Worlds/Olympics and never even won a medal of any color. Why would we suddenly think he’s arrived as a world beater? Normally world champions are at least winning medals way before their fourth shot at glory (although that certainly wasn’t the case for Mo Farah).

Why Yomif Kejecha is the Ethiopian most likely to beat Farah: For the last few years, the now 20-year-old has been viewed by many as the next great Ethiopian distance runner. He won the World Youth title in 2013, the World Junior title in 2014 and was 4th in his first appearance at Worlds in 2015. Last year, he won World Indoors at 3k and then ran 13:03 twice before the Olympics but was foolishly left off the Olympic team. He then showed that the Ethiopians had made a huge mistake as he ran 7:28.19 in the 3k in Paris right after Worlds – that time is a world junior record and much faster than Farah has ever run (7:32.62). This year, he’s run 3:32 for 1500, showing he’s got nice speed, and he’s raced less often than in 2015. In 2015, Worlds was his 5th 5k of the year. This year, it’s just his second.

Why Kejelcha is not likely to beat Farah: Except for the 5000 prelim at Worlds, he hasn’t won a race all year having finished 2nd at Pre in the 5k and 3rd in the Doha and Paris 3ks.

Why Selemon Barega is the Ethiopian most likely to beat Farah: Barega may have the highest ceiling. The World U20 champ last year and the World U18 champ this year, Barega has a listed official age of just 17 (we have our doubts to begin with and heard from another journalist in the mixed zone that he’s really 21). Regardless, he is a big talent no matter his age and he’s run 12:55. He may have the best shot to win simply because, unlike Edris and Kejelcha, he hasn’t been losing to Farah consistently over the past several years (Edris is 0 for 5 against Farah and Kejelchas is 0 for 4).

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Being young has its advantages as you often are naive and he’s never raced Farah before.

Why Selemon Barega is not likely to beat Farah: He’s incredibly inexperienced at the pro level. Even if he’s the next Geb/Bekele, do we really expect someone who ran in the World U18 champs this summer to dethrone Mo Farah at home? He lost to Edris in the 12:55 race.

The American

The other man with a shot to spring the upset is Chelimo, who briefly challenged Farah in the homestretch in Rio before the Brit pulled away to victory. Chelimo, like several of his US Army WCAP teammates, is now based in Colorado Springs under coach Scott Simmons. Simmons believes that Chelimo has made a similar jump to the ones experienced by Shadrack Kipchirchir (27:32 to 27:07 in the 10k) and Stanley Kebenei (8:18 to 8:08 in the steeple) in their first years in his system. The only difference is that Chelimo, as an Olympic silver medalist, was starting off at a much higher level.

“He’s ultimately stronger than he’s ever been,” Simmons said of Chelimo. “I think he’s in 27:00 shape but he’s also developed his speed and his kick more so than before. He may well be in the place where Mo was when he started with Salazar where he was kind of a known entity and then if he did everything right, he was on another level.”

It will be very interesting to see how Chelimo plays the final. He looked rough in his prelim on Thursday, but afterwards he attributed that to having to play catchup after falling with three laps to go. We’ll take Chelimo at his word, and assuming he is ready to go in the final, he has some options. He could do what he did last year and hope that his extra strength in 2017 is the difference between silver and gold in the home straight. Or he could try to make a break early in the race, as he did at USA indoors (8:28 2-mile at altitude) and USA outdoors (13:08 5k in 90-degree temps) and hope that results in an insurmountable gap. That strategy is a risky one to employ in a World Championship final, however. First, the guys are a lot better in the World Championship final than they are at USAs. Second, Mo Farah is no fool. He’ll know that Chelimo is a candidate to make an early break and will likely respond immediately.

But Simmons and Chelimo definitely have a plan to beat Farah, even if they won’t reveal publicly what it is.

“[Our group had] two focuses in our training [this year],” Simmons told LRC a few weeks ago. “One was to beat Galen Rupp [in the 10k at USAs] and we put three in front of him. People said he was coming back from Boston, but I don’t think Galen Rupp runs anything where he doesn’t intend to do well. We were able to control the race and make the race. And that’s what we’ve prepared to do in the 10k and the 5k against Mo. There are ways to beat him and we’ve prepared in training for those ways.”

Other Medal Contenders

The men above are our contenders for gold barring a huge jump in class like Chelimo did last year in Rio. There are a few other guys who could get on the podium.

Moh Ahmed, 4th in last year’s Olympics in Rio, has to be taken seriously as a medal threat and is clearly fit after ripping a 27:02 Canadian record in last week’s 10,00 final. Cyrus Rutto is the Kenyan champ, which doesn’t carry much weight anymore considering how poorly his comrades fared in the first round, but he’s a 13:03 guy who could medal on the right day. After that, it’s a crapshoot, but if the Ethiopians or Chelimo falter, it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see someone like Andy Butchart of Great Britain (6th in Rio) or Birhanu Yalew of Bahrain (9th in Rio, winner of the Heusden 5k in July) steal a medal. The second American, Ryan Hill, has a great final 200 if he’s in position to use it (witness his silver in the 3k at World Indoors last year), but a hot pace could prove too much for him.

LRC Predicton: Predicting a loss by Farah is stupid, particularly at 5000 where since moving to the tutelage of Alberto Salazar in 2011, he’s los just once in 23 competition (2013 Pre Classic when he was sick).

That being said, it has been a very weird World Championship where little has gone according to form.

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