Mo Farah Says He Is “Happy” With His Training, Confirms 2023 London Will Be His Final Marathon

LONDON — Sunday will be Mo Farah‘s final TCS London Marathon — his final marathon, anywhere, he confirmed on Thursday in front of the assembled media — and he is trying to put on a brave face. He says he has been healthy during his buildup in Ethiopia, and that he has drawn confidence from his training partners’ strong performance last weekend in Rotterdam. He says his tuneup road race in Gabon, where he managed to run 30:41 for 10k — or 41 seconds slower than his fellow Brit Eilish McColgan ran for the same distance on the track last month — was not indicative of the work he has put in over the past two months.

How much will Farah fans have to cheer on Sunday? The last time he ran London, four years ago, Farah finished 5th in 2:05:39, but that was a different runner. Farah has said 2023 is likely to be his final season as a pro — he has a few more races planned post-London, but no marathons — in part because his now-40-year-old body has begun to betray him.

“It’s definitely been quite emotional the last couple years,” Farah said. “The last two years, my body hasn’t been allowing me what I needed to do in training, and that’s the hardest thing.”

If the 2019 Farah — fresh off a Chicago victory in the best stretch of marathoning in his career — could only manage 5th, could the 40-year-old version really finish any higher? Farah didn’t specify a time or place goal, but his training partner, Bashir Abdi, just ran 2:03:47 to win the Rotterdam Marathon on Sunday, which has Farah feeling good.

Farah doing the Mobot on Thursday in front of Buckingham Palace (Bob Martin for London Marathon Events)

“It does definitely inspire me and give me massive confidence,” Farah said. “And not just him, but also Abdi Nageeye, who finished 3rd in 2:05. We’re all in the same group, and in terms of sessions, we were pretty close, neck-and-neck at times. I wasn’t always the one pushing but I was thereabout.”

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But Farah’s only race so far in 2023 gave no indication of that sort of fitness as he ran just 30:41 at the Port-Gentil 10K in Gabon on April 2, 2:30 behind winner Vincent Kipkemoi. Farah admitted Thursday that the race did not go as well as he wanted, but noted the weather was hot and he had a lot of miles in his legs that week. Farah chose to focus on what he has been able to achieve during this buildup — consistent, healthy training that he lacked in 2021 and 2022 — rather than dwell on the disappointing result.

“You’ve gotta look at not just one race, but you’ve gotta look through your training consistency and for me the biggest thing is being able to do the training for so many weeks, which my body’s allowing me,” Farah said. “Which is the main thing. I’ve done some decent training over the last couple of months so I’m happy in terms of where I am.”

The last few years have not gone according to plan for Farah, first missing out on the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, then having to withdraw from last year’s London Marathon after developing a hip injury the week before the race. So Farah is trying to appreciate the opportunity he has on Sunday, where he will have 26.2 miles to say farewell to his hometown, the city with which he will be forever linked for the two gold medals he won here at the 2012 Olympics.

“I do enjoy London and hopefully Sunday, I’m looking forward to seeing the crowd and the people and the atmosphere,” Farah said. “The key thing is to go out there and enjoy it.”


Defending champion Amos Kipruto speaks out on Kenyan doping problem

Kipruto, who used a 4:21 25th mile to win last year’s race, says his preparation has gone well for London, and while he hasn’t done every session with high-powered training mates Evans Chebet and Benson Kipruto (who just went 1-3 in Boston), he has run a number of workouts with them and has finished alongside them. He said his fitness is on par with when he won this race six months ago.

“Last year’s shape and this year is really similar, no change,” Kipruto said.

Kipruto was asked in the main press conference about his thoughts on Kenya’s doping problem — the country saw at least 25 athletes suspended in 2022 — and spoke candidly about the issue, calling it “an embarrassment.”

“It’s really killing me sometimes, my heart, because when you see someone has been caught, it’s really raising a lot of questions in your mind,” Kipruto says. “You’re asking yourself why this person go through this? You find someone injecting yourself, you find someone buying some medicine, swallow some medicine and you know [they’re healthy and don’t need it]. So someone is not even thinking about his health.”

Kipruto echoed the comments fellow Kenyan marathoner Mary Ngugi made to the BBC on Wednesday, saying success is the product of patience and time. He believes too many athletes want to take a shortcut to success by doping.

“When you tell someone be patient, they see you like you are talking nonsense,” Kipruto said. “…What kills athletes mostly is impatience, they need to rush. You find someone getting everything. they want to run faster to get money, which is not correct. But if someone is clever enough, you better be patient and your time will come.”

Kipruto is pleased that the Kenyan government has taken action to fight doping, dedicating $5 million per year over the next year toward tackling the issue. He says he believes the AIU is doing a good job by using more sophisticated methods to catch dopers and asked for them to keep pushing.

“The request I have for the AIU and [the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya] is to tighten up a lot, even to bring more technology how to catch dopers,” Kipruto says. “…If they introduce even more systems how to handle this doping, I’ll be happy.”

Tamirat Tola is fit, but weather could present an issue

I spoke with Gemedu Dedefo, coach of Tamirat Tola. He said Tola’s shape is very good — better, even than when he won the world title in Eugene last summer. Dedefo said he believes Tola is around 2:03 shape right now, which is good news — though he ran 2:03:40 in Valencia in December and still finished almost two minutes behind Kelvin Kiptum, whom he will face in London. But Dedefo said Tola made a mistake by surging too quickly after the pacemakers dropped in Valencia (he split 14:27 from 25k to 30k), something he will try not to repeat on Sunday. One worry about Tola: the weather. When I told Dedefo it might rain on Sunday, he seemed worried about how it could affect Tola. He mentioned that another athlete he coaches, Amane Beriso, did not enjoy the cold rain in Boston on Monday. Beriso still finished second, but Dedefo said her legs were locking up toward the end due to the weather.

Kelvin Kiptum is fit, but not world-record fit

Kiptum stunned the running world by running 2:01:53 in his debut in Valencia in December, and admitted he even stunned himself as he went into the race thinking he would run 2:03. But he said that he felt the half marathon training he had been doing prepared him well for the full distance — by the time he debuted, he had run 11 half marathon, six under 60:00 and one under 59:00.

“I think marathon was not difficult for me,” Kiptum said.

Kiptum is confident, but not unrealistic. After he ran 2:01:53 in Valencia, he said he was not yet ready to face Kipchoge (who had just run a world record of 2:01:09 in Berlin) and Kiptum said that while he is fit for London, he is not in world record shape.

“My goal is to come to London and win,” Kiptum said. “World record now, I am not ready for that.”

Environmental group pledges to help protect London Marathon from protests

Protests at major sporting events have been making headlines in the UK recently. Last weekend, the Grand National — one of the UK’s biggest horse races — was delayed after a protest from an animal rights activist group, while on Monday the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield were halted after an incident featuring the environmental group Just Stop Oil. There have been concerns that the London Marathon could be targeted this weekend but race director Hugh Brasher has said he met with the environmental group Extinction Rebellion, which has asked its members to guard the course from protests.

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