Mo Farah flew in to Great Britain from his training base in Ethiopia today (17), smiling and excited as he takes on the next challenge of his career by running in the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday (22).
The Virgin Money London Marathon is a newly-certified five star road race by European Athletics Running for All, guaranteeing participants the race organisers have met the stringent safety and organisational guidelines.
"I am enjoying everything more than ever before, I am more relaxed. If you are not enjoying it, what is the point?" said Farah. "I feel no pressure and there is no expectation."
At 35, Farah is taking on 26.2 miles of a marathon for the second time in his career having retired from the track last summer.
One of the greatest distance runners of all-time – with 17 major indoor and outdoor track titles to his name – Farah has his sights set on the Olympic marathon in Tokyo 2020 as a target.
The only other full marathon he has competed in was when he was eighth in London in 2014 while very much in the grip of a track career. Now he is solely focused on what lies ahead on the roads.
"I have been learning and improving since 2010," said Farah, who last summer won the world 10,000m title for the third successive time. "I will carry on doing that. A win on Sunday would be amazing. I go into every race to fight and think of the podium."
His time four years ago of 2:08:21 was impressive enough for a debutant. It was an English record and the second fastest by a Brit. Welshman Steve Jones' mark of 2:07:13 from Chicago 1985 one of Farah's targets this weekend.
As could be the European record of 2:05:48 which Norway's Sondre Nordstad Moen set in Fukuoka only in December.
"That would be great," said Farah, as he reeled off the time without blinking. "That would be great. I don't know. It depends how the race is run. Anything can happen."
Farah has nothing to prove, such has been his success for over a decade. His first major senior gold medal came back in December 2006 when he won the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in San Giorgio su Legnano, Italy.
It was in Turin in 2009 when he celebrated his first track gold in the 3000m at the European Athletics Indoor Championships before double gold at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona in 2010.
Since then he has dominated distance running on the track, with four Olympic gold medals and six world titles to his credit. Now ahead is something completely different.
Farah, who is being trained by Gary Lough, the husband of Paula Radcliffe, said: "I am here to do a job. But it is totally different. When you are a track runner, you plan five or six races ahead. When you are a marathon runner, it is one race."
Farah is looking forward to spending time with his family who he has not seen during his time in Ethiopia where he has been running 120 miles.
After a glittering career on the track, it is a whole new regime under the guidance of Lough as he embarks on the final chapter of his career on the roads.
"I am not going to give anything away about my training but we have been working hard. Gary is a genius. I believe in him," said Farah, who then did reveal that one area of change was recovery between reps of about 30 or 45 seconds.
But it is now all about Sunday when he faces a field of the highest calibre.
Kenya's reigning champion Daniel Wanjiru, who has a personal best of 2:05:21, returns to defend his title, as does his teammate Eliud Kipchoge, who broke the course record when he won in 2:03:05 in 2016. The fastest runner in the line-up is Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, who preceded Farah as the world and Olympic champion over 10,000m, with 2:03:03.
Farah cannot wait to toe the start-line against some of the world’s greatest marathoners.
"You have to have a new challenge as an athlete," he said. "I believe I am going to run a decent marathon."
The European Athletics Quality Road Race standards act as an assurance for road runners throughout Europe. They distinguish between races that respect the standards and those that haven’t sought certification or assessment. They form the foundation of Running for All, a strong recognisable brand for running activities throughout Europe.
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