Mo Farah is arguably one of the best distance runners in the history of the sport. The Somali-born British citizen is a double-Olympic gold medalist (5000m and 10,000m) and has stood at the top of the podium in countless international races throughout the world for the past 14 years. This Sunday, Farah laces up his flats to complete in the 25th edition of the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon in Portugal, an IAAF Gold-Label Event.
For Farah, the prestigious event will be his first road race of the season. His personal best for the 13.1-mile distance is exactly 60 minutes and there’s no doubt that he’d like to smash the 1-hour barrier on Sunday.
“I have heard a lot about this race and all the famous athletes who ran there before,” Farah says. “I know it is a fast course and always gets a good field. My goal is to win the race. Normally that requires a sub-60 performance.”
Farah has run other half marathons, including the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon in 2013 where he set the British national record of 1 hour, 59 seconds.
Farah, who usually trains in Portland, Oregon under the watchful eye of coach Alberto Salazar, spent seven weeks training in Ethiopia over the winter gearing up for the 2015 season. This year, the world championships take place in Beijing, China. Farah won double gold in the 5,000m and 10,0000 at the 2013 edition of the championships in Moscow and says doing so again is on his career bucket list.
The 31-year-old also hopes to defend his Olympic titles in Rio next year, but after that, he says there won’t be another Olympics in him. “I will be retired from competitive running [in five years from now] and hopefully doing some work with kids to inspire them to get involved in sport,” Farah admits.
Farah says he’s put in the miles for this weekend’s race in Lisbon. “There are no shortcuts in long distance running,” he admits. “You have to do the work. I think about what my rivals may be doing that that inspires me to push harder.”
The field assembled to compete against Farah is top-notch—many of the athletes on the start list have all run faster than Farah for the half-marathon distance. Stephen Kibet of Kenya has clocked a 58:54 as has fellow countryman Silas Kipruto (59:39). Additionally, Guye Adola (59:06) of Ethiopia and Morocco’s Aziz Lahbabi (59:25) are in the mix. Farah aside, these runners are setting their sights on Zersenay Tadese’s world record (58:23), a mark that was clocked in Lisbon five years ago.
The women’s race should be equally exciting. The home-field advantage goes with Portuguese runner Anna Dulce Felix, a 1:08:32 half marathoner. She will be toeing the line against Kenyan Olympic silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo.
Elites aside, a massive field of 34,000 runners will be touring the scenic Portuguese capital on foot. One of the most stunning vistas on the course will be at the start where runners cross the gorgeous 25 de Abril Bridge.