Sir Mo Farah last night set his sights on a British record in the new Antrim Coast Half Marathon.
The four-time Olympic gold medallist - who did the 5,000m and 10,000m double at both London 2012 and Rio 2016 - is confident his own half marathon mark of 59.32 will be under threat after yesterday confirming his participation in the big race, which starts and finishes in Larne on Saturday-week.
"Let's see what I can do," said Farah, who is coached by former Great Britain international - and husband of Paula Radcliffe - Gary Lough, who hails from Ballygally just outside the town.
Race organiser James McIlroy, 800m semi-finalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, is a long-time friend of Sir Mo, the pair having roomed together when Great Britain team-mates.
Sir Mo added: "I am really looking forward to taking part in the Antrim Coast Half Marathon in Larne. My good friend James is organising it so I said 'yes, I'll do it' - we have some great history. I can't wait. It's a fast course so I am really excited."
Sir Mo will run in Larne just eight days after Friday's tilt at the great Haile Gebrselassie's 21,285m one-hour World record in Brussels.
Larne man McIlroy said: "I have known Mo for 20 years."
McIlroy added: “We were two of the first athletes to move into the Team GB high performance centre at St Mary’s University in Twickenham in 2001 — in fact, we actually started on the same day. We also shared a room on Team GB trips and obviously trained together.
“I don’t think at that stage too many people would have predicted how far he would go. He is one of the greats. He has taken his career to a different dimension. He does everything right and he is reaping the rewards.
“The Antrim Coast Half Marathon was already shaping up to be the best in Europe this year but Mo’s participation takes it to a whole new level.
“There are so many top athletes — about 20 Olympians — but Mo’s duel with Marc Scott should be something special. Marc recently broke Mo’s 5k record. There is a great line-up in the women’s race too, headed by Jo Pavey.
“Mo will be in top shape after his World record attempt in Brussels on Friday so expect to see fireworks.”
McIlroy is encouraging people to watch the race — which will be started by a blast on the horn of a passing P&O Ferry — on a live stream, with the BBC involved in the coverage.
“Obviously due to the pandemic, we don’t want to see crowds on the route so we are starting early. We have very stringent safety measures in place,” said McIlroy.
Kevin Seaward and Stephen Scullion, who are hoping to race in the Tokyo Olympics next year, are expected to lead the Northern Ireland challenge, while current British champions Lily Partridge and Ben Connor are also in the field.
There are 15 Olympians from six different Olympic Games taking part.
The women’s race will get under way at 8am on September 12 with the men setting off at 8.20am, the start and finish at the iconic Chaine Memorial Tower in Larne.
The new event, postponed from March due to the pandemic, is a revamp of the highly successful Larne Half Marathon and McIlroy — who praised the work of race director Billy Thompson — added: “Mo’s involvement bodes well for the future of the race.”
The mass participation element of the race has been postponed until next year due to Covid.