Less than a month after his third-place finish at the London Marathon, Mo Farah will return to the streets of Great Britain. On Sunday at the Great Manchester Run, the 10-time global champion will race a 10K—the distance that provided him with some of the greatest triumphs of his career.
While Farah is now a full-time marathoner, his history in the shorter distances gives him an advantage over the field. Stanley Biwott, Feyisa Lilesa, and Abel Kirui are also scheduled to race, making this a battle among some of the most accomplished marathoners in the world.
Biwott is the 2015 New York City Marathon and has finished second twice in London. Lilesa took silver at the 2016 Olympics. Most recently, he placed sixth in the Tokyo Marathon. But perhaps Farah’s best competition will come from the man who finished one place behind him in the London Marathon—Kirui. The Kenyan ran 2:07:07 for fourth in April and won the gold medal at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships.
The British hopes reside in the legs of Jonny Mellor. The 31-year-old has a personal best of 28:50 and finished 14th at this year’s London Marathon.
As always, Farah looks to be up to the task. At the London Marathon, he turned in a strong performance, competing gamely against a top field and setting the British record of 2:06:21.
In his last two non-marathon appearances on the road, Farah showed no vulnerabilities. In his tune-up for the marathon, he ran 1:01:40 at the Big Half in London. Last fall, he won the Great North Run in 1:00:06, defeating Jake Robertson and Lelisa in the process.
Dibaba, Jepkosgei Clash In Women's Race
Six-time gold medalist and 5000m world record holder Tirunesh Dibaba makes up one half of a dynamic women’s field. The 32-year-old has made winning the Great Manchester Run a staple of her career. She’s won the race on seven occasions, including last year where she took the victory by over two minutes.
Winning on Sunday will be much more difficult. Waiting for her in Manchester is Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya. Jepkosgei doesn’t have the global championships like Dibaba, but she has fast times. Lots of them.
A quick review of Jepkosgei’s 2017:
April 1, Prague: Runs 1:04:52 to break the world record in the half marathon. En route to the finish she also breaks the records for 10K (30:04), 15K (45:37), and 20K (1:01:25).
September 9, Prague: Runs 29:43 to better her own 10K record, while also setting the 5K world record en route (14:32).
October 22, Valencia: Breaks her half marathon world record by one second, running 1:04:51.
By comparison to that historic 2017, Jepkosgei's 2018 has been a bit of a struggle.
At the RAK Half Marathon in February, Jepkosgei finished fifth in a stacked field, running 1:06:46. The next month, she placed second at the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia with a 1:06:54.
Regardless of whether she’s in world record form, Sunday’s matchup with Dibaba should be fascinating.
Dibaba’s 2018 hasn’t been sensational either—she dropped out of the London Marathon after trying to run with the hot pace of Mary Keitany in the early miles. But Dibaba’s early departure—she stopped running around the 19-mile mark—means that she should be ready for a hard effort.
Though she doesn’t have the world records of Jepkosgei on the roads, Dibaba has run 30:30 on the roads and 29:42 on the track. The two raced each other in 2017 at the RAK Half Marathon. Jepkosgei finished third in the race with a 1:06:08, while Dibaba took fifth in 1:06:50.
Six weeks after her breakthrough marathon effort, Betsy Saina will try to give Jepkosgei and Dibaba some company. Saina ran 2:22:56 to win the Paris Marathon on April 6 after two DNFs in the marathon in 2017. Prior to the marathon, Saina was a force in shorter distances. She was fifth in the 2016 Olympic 10,000m, running 30:07. She also has a 5000m personal best of 14:39.