Unbeatable: The Amazing Mo Farah Wins the 10,000 at 2017 Worlds, Earns 10th Global Gold in “Toughest Race” of His Life
August 4, 2017
LONDON — Same stadium. Same result. Faster time.
Five years to the day after he won his first global 10,000-meter title at the 2012 Olympics, Great Britain’s Mo Farah returned to the same London Stadium track and won his last to cap off day one of the 2017 IAAF World Championships. Farah pulled away in the homestretch to win in 26:49.51, sending a capacity crowd of over 60,000 into a state of delirium.
Farah had to run faster than he ever has in a championship 10,000, with a rotating cast of Africans taking turns pushing the pace. But, as has always been the case since his first title back in 2011, Farah was ready for the challenge and when he took the lead with 640 meters to go, he would not relinquish it. From that point on, the stadium was engulfed in a wall of noise as the partisan crowd roared him home. And once again, their man delivered.
Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, the 20-year old who signaled his intentions early with a shocking 61.02 opening lap, ran bravely throughout, and finished in 26:49.94 to earn silver, his first career global medal at the senior level. Kenya’s Paul Tanui (26:50.60) was third for the third Worlds in a row.
But this was about Farah’s brilliance, which seems to know no limits. Farah is 34 years old, absolutely ancient for a 10,000 man — six years older than anyone else in the top 12 — yet here he was, running his fastest time since 2011, and the fastest by anyone since his former training partner Galen Rupp set the American record back in 2014.
Farah was already a legend — his Olympic doubles in London and Rio saw to that — but the pile of gold medals he now possesses is truly staggering. He has 10 global golds on the track, two more than Kenenisa Bekele and four more than Haile Gebrselassie. Among male athletes, only Usain Bolt has more individual World Championship golds than Farah’s six. And he has accomplished all this after one of the most stunning mid-career turnarounds in sporting history. Before age 28, Farah had never finished higher than sixth at a global championship. But since joining forces with coach Alberto Salazar in 2011, he has been almost unbeatable.
Race recap, analysis and results below. We have a separate article on Cheptegei, the potential heir to Farah’s throne, here. (See: Joshua Cheptegei Is Primed to Succeed Gebrselassie, Bekele, and Farah as the World’s Next Great 10,000-Meter Runner)
Cheptegei wanted a fast pace and he wasted no time setting it, blitzing the first lap in 61.02 seconds. By 500 meters, Cheptegei, 2015 silver medalist Geoffrey Kamworor and Uganda’s Moses Kurong had already put 10 meters on the field, but the pace would not remain as hot. A large group passed 1600 meters in 4:20.30 (27:06 pace) — still fast, but no longer insane.
Five months ago at the World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Cheptegei duked it out with Kamworor for the title, but tonight they worked together, taking turns to push the pace through 3200 (8:41.84). The pace began to slow during mile 3, however, and Farah made a bid for the lead just before halfway (hit in 13:33.77), waving his arms to the crowd, which responded with a huge roar. But Kenya’s Bedan Karoki, sensing that Farah wanted to slow things down, did not allow that to happen, dropping a 61.65 13th lap. That strung the field out, leaving 13 men in the lead pack (soon to be 14 after Leonard Korir joined fellow American Shadrack Kipchirchir at the back of the pack).
From there, a string of Africans traded the pace, including Tanui and Aron Kifle of Eritrea. They ratcheted down the pace, eventually settling at 63-second pace, which they maintained from lap 17 to lap 23.
By that point, the lead pack had started to splinter, with the final American Kipchirchir falling off with two to go as Ethiopia’s World XC bronze medalist Abadi Hadis led. Farah made moves to the front on laps 21 and 23, again trying to slow things down, only for Hadis to pass him back and keep the pace rolling. Finally, with 640 meters remaining, Farah attacked definitively and held the lead at the bell after a 61.92 penultimate lap.
He had company, however, as Tanui was right on his shoulder, followed by Karoki, Kamworor and Cheptegei. All the big players were still alive.
With the crowd in full throat, Farah drew a few gasps as he lost his balance twice on the first turn. The second one, with just over 300 meters remaining, was the most notable. With Tanui on his outside (it’s hard to tell if the two made contact; Tanui and Farah may have bumped arms), Farah’s legs got tangled and though he did not go down, he had to take one step inside the rail to steady himself (there was no disqualification, and we weren’t made aware of any protest).
Farah kept pushing, but only Kamworor would break as the remaining four were all tightly bunched with 100 to go. As Farah entered the home straight, he launched one last, vigorous attack and finally began to create some separation. Only Cheptegei could manage any sort of a response, moving wide to try to challenge Farah, but even he could not erase the deficit as Farah cruised home to win global title #10. Farah’s final lap (55.63) was his slowest-ever in a global 10k final, but it was also part of a 13:13 final 5k and 4:05 final 1600.
|2||1356||Joshua Kiprui CHEPTEGEIUGA||26:49.94||PB|
|3||1148||Paul Kipngetich TANUIKEN||26:50.60||SB|
|4||1142||Bedan Karoki MUCHIRIKEN||26:52.12||PB|
|6||1130||Geoffrey Kipsang KAMWORORKEN||26:57.77||SB|
|12||735||Abraham Naibei CHEROBENBRN||27:11.08||NR|
|13||1417||Leonard Essau KORIRUSA||27:20.18||PB|
|18||1359||Moses Martin KURONGUGA||27:50.71|
|1341||Polat Kemboi ARIKANTUR||DNF|
Quick Take: Farah is certainly an ALL-TIME great
After Farah’s win tonight (and well before it), it’s natural to start speculating where he ranks among the sport’s all-time greats. There is no doubt he’s had the greatest run of championship success of any male distance runner in the professional era. Tonight’s win was his sixth at a World Championship. Only Usain Bolt (7) has ever won more in individual events. Michael Johnson and Sergey Bubka are the only others with six. That is legendary company.
Quick Take: Despite what we said above (Mo Farah may be the greatest championship distance runner in history), the stats reveal he wouldn’t be able to beat Bekele in his prime
On the BBC, the commentators were calling tonight’s win Farah’s toughest as the Africans threw everything they had at Farah – today’s race featured the most sub-27 performances in an Olympic or World Championship final in history (7) – and made it an honest race and yet Farah still did what he almost always does – win.
Tonight’s win may have been the most deserved for Farah, but as great as Farah was tonight, he would not have beaten Kenenisa Bekele in 2003. The parallels between the 2003 Paris 10,000 final and tonight’s race are many.
The winning time was 26:49 in both races.
The final 1k was run in 2:29 in both races.
The biggest difference is Bekele ran both his second half and last lap MUCH faster than Farah did tonight.
Tonight, Farah closed his 26:49 race in 13:13 with his last two laps being, 61.92 and 55.63.
Contrast that to Bekele in 2003. We suggest you sit down. Are you ready for this?
Bekele closed in 12:57 with his last two laps being 61.7 and 54.9.
Yes, 12:57. Oh, and he looked easy doing it. He was lapping runners and finished out in lane 2. Watch the finish for yourself.
If you know of a video of the full race, please email us as we’d love to watch it. Here is the ESPN coverage of it.
Discuss Farah’s greatness on our fan forum/messageboard. MB: Mo-Farah GOAT
Quick Take: Three great weeks of training in Font Romeu set the stage for this victory
Farah has won every race above 1500 meters this year, but the last time he was in London for the Anniversary Games on July 9, he still wasn’t in the shape he wanted to be in. So he headed back his European training base of Font Romeu in southern France for three more weeks of altitude training. By the time he returned to London, Farah knew he was ready to win gold. The capper was a big workout — 8 x 1k followed by some 400s — two weeks ago. Farah declined to reveal his splits, but we heard that he ran one of the 400s in under 50 seconds — crazy speed for a 34-year-old 10k guy.
“I felt like I’d run a decent session in terms of my time,” Farah said. “I was happy with it and I knew from that point. It wasn’t [just] that particular session, but the last three weeks has gone so well, I knew I’m going to be strong toward the end [of] the race.”
While Farah had turned some heads with the public pre-race when he said he was “not quite in the shape I’d like to be at this stage but I’m moving well so I hope it’ll go well”, the speculation amongst the press before this race was that Farah probably was really fit as he has entered the Diamond League 5,000m finale in Zurich later this month. If Farah didn’t want to chase a fast time, he easily could have ended his track career on the home turf at these world championships.
Quick Take: Unsurprisingly, this was one of the deepest races in history
For just the second time in history, seven men broke 27:00 in the same race. The only other time it happened was at the 2011 Pre Classic, where nine men got under; Farah actually set his PR of 26:46 in that race. Farah came close to his PR, as well as Kenenisa Bekele’s meet record of 26:46.31, but neither was to be. He’ll have to settle for his 10th career gold medal instead.
Quick Take: African-born athletes dominated to an absurd degree
The top 15 finishers were all born in Africa. Zane Robertson of New Zealand, who finished almost a minute behind Farah in 27:48.59, was the top non-African-born finisher in 16th. In all, 21 of the 24 men in this race were born in Africa.
Quick Take: Paul Tanui was happy to take a third consecutive bronze
Tanui has now medalled in four straight global champs — bronze at Worlds in 2013 and 2015, silver at the 2016 Olympics and another bronze here tonight. He had no regrets and was pleased to land on the medal stand again.
“I did my run … to perfection,” Tanui said. “I [gave it my] all. I had nothing left.”
Tanui will be 28 by the next World Champs in 2019, which is old for a 10k runner (non-Farah division), but with Farah gone, he thinks he will be able to move a few spots up the podium.
“My day is coming,” Tanui said.
Quick Take: A very fast day for the Americans, but no medals
All three Americans set personal bests tonight, with Kipchirchir (27:07.55, #3 all-time for US) and Korir (27:20.18, #6 all-time) moving into the all-time U.S. top 10 (US Champ Hassan Mead is only 17th on the US list, but his 27:32.49 tonight was still a one-second personal best). None were overly satisfied with the result, however, as they finished 9th, 13th and 15th in the race. Though we had a nice chat with Kipchirchir, Korir had already exited the mixed zone by the time we made it down there (roughly three minutes after the race) and Mead did not stop to speak to us (a USATF staffer said Mead told her he had an “awful race”).
While it’s admirable that the Americans hold themselves to such a high standard, the reality is that, aside from Galen Rupp, the U.S. has never been competitive in the men’s 10,000. The U.S. has never earned a medal in this event at Worlds and apart from Rupp, no American has ever been within 14 seconds of a medal (Kipchirchir was 17 seconds out of third tonight). Conditions were terrific for running fast tonight — temps in the 60s and a quick pace to follow up front — so perhaps it wasn’t a surprise that the times were quick. But you can’t do much better than running a personal best in a World Championship final. The Americans have nothing to be ashamed of — the Africans are simply better.
Tonight’s result should also put into perspective how much of an outlier Rupp was in the 10k. From 2012 through 2016, Rupp finished in the top five at Worlds/Olympics every year except for 2014 — when there was no championship and Rupp ran the world leader.
Quick Take: Shadrack Kipchirchir just became the third-fastest American ever but he’s not close to satisfied: “We’re going to keep on going to 26:40s”
Kipchirchir bravely hung on to the lead pack for almost 23 laps and as a result he was dragged to a 25-second PR of 27:07.55. Only two Americans have ever run faster: Galen Rupp (26:44.36) and Chris Solinsky (26:59.60). Truly, this was a spectacular performance for the 28-year-old Oklahoma State alum.
Kipchirchir admitted that he ran faster than he expected, but he placed lower. He was shooting for a medal, and indeed 27:07 is often good enough to finish on the podium. But with seven men breaking 27:00 tonight, he wasn’t even close.
Still, Kipchirchir ran the race of his life tonight. The last two years, he was 16th at Worlds and 19th at the Olympics. Tonight he was 9th. Kipchirchir said that his professional career began slowly as he had to take time off for Army basic training in the summer of 2014 (he’s in the Army World Class Athlete Program), but he’s been able to train consistently since then and has built his fitness year after year. And he says he’s not done. Kipchirchir plans to move down to the 5k next year but he still has some lofty goals remaining in the 10,000.
“Considering where the world record is and the American record is, that’s still nothing,” Kipchirchir said. “For us, 26:44 [is the goal] and we are going for that. I am happy because I improved from 27:32 to 27:07 but we’re going to keep on going to 26:40s or something…27:07, it’s still a PB but seeing where the rest are, I feel like I’m nothing.”
Quick Take: Moh Ahmed set the Canadian record in this one, but like the Americans, he wanted to finish higher up the field
Ahmed ran 27:02.35 to break Cam Levins’ Canadian record of 27:07.51, but he was disappointed to be dropped hard with two laps to go (Ahmed was with the lead pack at 9200 meters but the hot pace left him with no kick and he could only close in 2:10.
“I couldn’t have run any better,” Ahmed said. “I just didn’t have enough over the last four or five laps, especially over that last lap.”
Ahmed may not have won a medal as he wanted, but he definitely earned one honor: most improved. In Rio last year, he was dead last in 29:32.
The Bowerman Track Club athlete will have another shot at a medal next week in the 5,000, an event in which he finished 4th at the Olympics.
Discuss the race on our fan forum/messageboard:
MB: Mo-Farah GOAT
MB: Official 2017 Worlds Day 1 Discussion Thread
MB: Farah – track GOAT?
MB: Did Mo Farah Just LOSE the 5000m?
MB: Bedan Karoki is a god damn beast.
MB: Mo Farah – Future Marathon WR Holder, you heard it here first !
MB: Mo Farah stepped off the track, will he be DQ’d?
MB: 2017 WC Mo Farah would have beaten 2003 WC Kenenisa Bekele
MB: What were Mo’s splits?