07 November 2008
Former European Cross Country Champion Mo Farah is preparing for this year’s winter season in the warm, but challenging climes of Addis Ababa. The 25 year old is spending a month in one of the world’s true hotbeds of distance running, concluding with his participation in the Toyota Great Ethiopia 10k Run on 23 November.
“I’m really enjoying my training here, and the race will give me a good marker for Brussels.” He said, looking ahead to this year’s Euro Cross in the Belgian capital on 14 December. “But I’m expecting it to be tough. There are loads of Ethiopians capable of running under 29 minutes so I’m not expecting an easy ride.”
“I’ve been wanting to come for a long time. My childhood home is not far from here (Hargeisa, Somalia) so it was an opportunity for me to visit family there as well as coming here for training.” He said.
“Before arriving here I had been taking it easy after the end of the season, but I’m now starting to get back into some good training. I don’t want to put pressure on myself, I just want to work hard, enjoy my training and see where it gets me.”
Farah has also been using the time to rub shoulders with some of the country’s legendary runners. “We had dinner at Meseret Defar’s house the other week. She and her husband were so welcoming and friendly. And we’ve seen Kenenisa (Bekele) and others when we’ve been out training in the forests.
“In some ways, with my Somali background, things are not that different for me here. People are very friendly, they are very close, and life is very safe – which is how I feel at home in Hargeisa. But you know that you’re in a running country here.
“The other day we were training up in the forests at about 10,000 feet and this boy came running along – he looked about 5 years old – and he started running with us, looking up at us all the time. He looked as though he was hardly breathing.”
The Toyota Great Ethiopia Run is expected to attract an entry of around 32,000. The international entry is led by Farah and 2007 World Championships 3000m steeplechase fourth-placer Mohaamed Mustafa of Sweden and Kenyan internationals Glibert Yego, Raymond Tanui, Valentine Kipketer and Joyce Kandia.
The local entry will also be inevitably strong. The last two winners, Tsegaye Kebede and Deriba Merga went on to finish third and fourth in the men’s marathon at this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing.