15 September 2013
The Bupa Great North Run
Mo Farah (coach: Alberto Salazar) was second to Kenenisa Bekele in a superb race at the 2013 Bupa Great North Run, whilst there was a GB double victory in the wheelchair races in an exciting day’s action finishing at the South Shields seafront this morning.
As expected the men’s race turned into a 13 mile glory procession for the star line-up of Farah, Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie who broke away from the rest of the field early doors and continued to push on towards what looked to be an epic finish.
Surprisingly Bekele was the first of the three to drop back as they went through 10k in 28.58 and Gebrselassie pushed on with Farah sat comfortably behind him.
Yet the multiple world and Olympic champion figure of Bekele returned to the fold and along the seafront at South Shields put in a surge that looked fairly decisive leaving Farah and Gebrselassie in his wake, taking more than 20m out of the Brit in the closing stages.
Yet in customary Farah fashion, he gritted his teeth and pulled back the deficit over the final 400m and managed to set up thrilling climax where Bekele was just able to hold him off at the line.
It finished with Bekele taking the win in 60.09 ahead of Farah in 60.10 and Gebrselassie in 60.41 – Farah’s time a new British best performance, and Gebrselassie’s time a new World Masters V40 best mark.
“Kenenisa is a great athlete and he has great experience. I honestly thought we were dropping him (at the 15km mark) but he didn’t and he wanted the pace to continue - he was feeling good at the 15km mark. He said he might have slowed the pace down but that didn’t work and I said to Haile at one point “the gap’s not enough”.
“When Kenenisa went, he just went suddenly down that hill and I just couldn’t quite respond. But you learn the tactics and hopefully now I’ll take my break and start to get ready for the marathon.
“As an athlete you are always going to be disappointed at losing and you don’t want to lose a race but to lose against Kenenisa, he’s a great athlete. It would’ve been nice to come out here and win it but it came right to the line and Kenenisa’s been training for this event and he’s in good shape. For me, my main aim of the year was the World Championships and that’s the one I’ve been training for all year round.
“We showed today, in terms of the field and race, it was a great race especially with Haile pushing on early on. I guess this race was awesome in terms of having the three of us going against each other.”
Liverpool Harrier Jonny Mellor (Dave Evans) was the next best Brit behind Farah, crossing the line in 11th in 64.58 with Woodford Green’s Matt Gunby in 12th in 65.03.
Mellor however was frustrated with his day’s work in the North East:
“At 5km the legs didn’t feel great and at 10 miles the heavens just opened,” he said.
“It’s frustrating to train so hard and have it affected by the weather on the day but that’s the sport it’s the same for everyone. It’s a race I have always wanted to do and I made provision to fit in on the end of the season so have been working towards it since the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games.
“I’m concentrating now on building up for the five or ten at the Commonwealth Games. I was thinking of moving up to the marathon but I look at the other athletes who are running marathons and whilst my 1500m and 3km times are similar, over 5000m and 10km they are faster than me – so I am going to work on those now.”
At the front end of the women’s elite race Kenya’s Priscah Jeptoo gave a strong demonstration of road running to her illustrious track rivals opening up a significant gap midway stretching the best part of 80m ahead of the hard working Meseret Defar and 2012 champion Tirunesh Dibaba.
And despite a fast –closing finish by Meseret Defar, Jeptoo held on for the win with a swift 65.45 clocking, just 5 seconds outside of Paula Radcliffe’s best performance of 65.40
British women’s hopes were slightly dented by the eleventh hour withdrawals of both Alyson Dixon (self coached) and Gemma Steel (John Nuttall) but top finisher in 10th was Barnsley’s Jilly Woodthorpe with Wakefield’s Julie Briscoe close behind in 1:14.43.
Woodthorpe who competed for GB as Jilly Ingman in the late nineties and early noughties was emotional and thrilled to have take the coveted first Brit spot following a career of injury:
She said: It's only my third ever half marathon... I'm so overwhelmed. there was three of us swapping positions and vying for places throughout. I even went through a bad patch at one stage but thats the thing about learning the event, you don't realise you've got time to come through it.
"The conditions I found tough - a bit of rain, a bit of wind, a bit of everything. I'd like to think there's a faster time in me. I have only been training for it since early June and had three weeks out with a torn calf."
The men’s wheelchair race turned into a victory demonstration for GB’s Paralympic champion David Weir (Jenny Archer), having pulled away from the field before the halfway and building up a sizeable lead by the six mile point.
He extended his lead over the closing miles, and with closest competitor Josh Cassidy having to pull out mid race, it was an easy fifth win for the ‘Weirwolf’.
“I was quite cautious on the start because the roads were really greasy, since I’ve been back training all I have done is attack the hills so I just needed to see who was good on the hills or not and Josh looked pretty strong but I knew I just needed to stay close to them and then I thought ‘right I should go’, he said.
“I think it went a little bit too early maybe as I’ve only been back pushing fully for two weeks. I just felt my lungs go a little bit but I got through that period and then it was very fast.
“You’ve just got to brake all the way down that final hill bit – there’s no point in taking risks as you’ve got to finish but it was the first time I’ve done the last bit with no head wind whatsoever – it was really strange the wind, I thought this would be toughest section but it wasn’t this year.
“I’ve got the Birmingham run in October – but I’m in winter training now– I’m just concentrating on having a full winter’s programme at home because I missed it last year and I have the challenge of doing both London and Boston next year so I need a good winter this year.”
Shelly Woods (Jenni Woods), won her fifth Great North wheelchair race title to make it a GB wheelchair victory double in 54.28, ahead of younger GB teammate Jade Jones (Ian Thompson, Tanni Grey-Thompson) who clocked 57.17.
Woods said: “It was good. It was very British conditions out there, so it wasn’t easy and it was quite swirly out there but it was good and it was great to get the win.
“I felt comfortable and I’m happy with my time and my race. There weren’t international girls here but Jade (Jones) is always good competition and today I was just thinking about going for a decent performance and chasing as many of the guys as I could.”
For full results from today’s races visit www.greatrun.org