With just two domestic races in 2022 to his name, and with his 40th birthday approaching, you might forgive Mo Farah for considering retirement. However Britain’s most decorated track and field athlete has confirmed that he will be competing in the 2023 London Marathon.
'I've had an amazing career, won four Olympic gold medals, represented my country for many, many years,' he said. 'But what keeps me going is that I love what I do. It's been tough the last three years with injuries, but honestly I do love it, and when I'm out there running I'm in such a good mood.'
This April’s London marathon will be his first at the distance since 2019, after having to withdraw from last October’s race just days before with a hamstring injury. Last year he raced just twice, winning the Big Half but coming second to Aldershot, Farnham & District’s Ellis Cross in the Vitality 10km.
Farah’s athletics career has been garlanded with multiple victories but his marathon career has perhaps not quite lived up to the early promise – breaking the British record at his first marathon in London 2018, and then victory at Chicago the same year, setting a then European record of 2:05:11. In 2019 – the last year he raced over the distance – he finished fifth at London and eighth in Chicago. In 2020 he took part at the elite-only marathon, pacing fellow Brits Jonny Mellor and Ben Connor – who also will run in this year's race – to Olympic qualifying times, but as a pacer, naturally did not complete the full distance. His European record has also subsequently been lowered to 2:03:35 by his friend and training partner, Bashir Abdi.
However he clearly still feels he has unfinished business over 26.2 miles. 'I’m very proud of what I have achieved,' he said. 'I just want to give myself one more shot and see what I can do. But I've got nothing to prove.'
Farah’s name may be the big crowd draw, but he leads a stellar British field. Eilish McColgan, the Commonwealth Games 10,000m champion, makes her debut over the distance, after overcoming fuelling problems which led to her postponing her debut last October. The domestic women's field also includes the second and fourth fastest UK marathoners of all time – Jess Piasecki – who ran 2:22:25 at last year’s Seville Marathon and Charlotte Purdue, whose PB of 2:23:26 was set at the 2021 London Marathon.
Purdue will be hoping to dust off the bad luck she has recently suffered from, after being forced to withdraw from London last October with illness, and testing positive for Covid after DNF-ing the World Championships marathon in the summer in Oregon – a rare DNF for a very gutsy runner.
The men’s field also contains another promising debut, that of Emile Cairess. Cairess recently won a silver medal at the European Cross Country championships, behind Jakob Ingebrigtsen and actually holds, joint with Sir Mo Farah, the British 10K record (27:44). Also in the men's field is last year's top British finisher, Weynay Ghebresilasie, plus Tokyo Olympian and athletics fan favourite Chris Thompson.
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