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My Larne half marathon bid won't be a one-off, insists Mo Farah


Inver man: Mo Farah, in a Larne FC top, at the home of friend and Antrim Coast Half Marathon organiser James McIlroy

Inver man: Mo Farah, in a Larne FC top, at the home of friend and Antrim Coast Half Marathon organiser James McIlroy

Inver man: Mo Farah, in a Larne FC top, at the home of friend and Antrim Coast Half Marathon organiser James McIlroy

Sir Mo Farah last night vowed to come back to Larne next year for another crack at the Antrim Coast Half Marathon after hopefully breaking his own British record.

The four-time Olympic gold medallist - whose record mark is 59.32 - stunned the athletics world last week when confirming he would run in today's showpiece, which starts and finishes in Larne, and hopes it is the beginning of a long association with the event.

Sir Mo is a long-time pal of race organiser James McIlroy - who reached the 800m semi-finals at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and has big ambitions for his hometown race - and is coached by another Larne man, Gary Lough, husband of long-distance legend Paula Radcliffe. Farah's manager, Ricky Simms, hails from Donegal.

"I would love to come back to Larne on a regular basis to race in the Antrim Coast Half Marathon. I have heard a lot of good things about the course. I have already had a jog around part of it and people were beeping their horns and waving - it's nice to feel the love!" Sir Mo told the Belfast Telegraph on the eve of the big race, postponed from March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a revamp of the long-running Larne Half Marathon.

"James and I go back a long way. We were at (Team GB high performance centre) St Mary's in London together. When he asked me to come over to race, I jumped at the chance."

Covid restrictions mean today's mass participation event has been cancelled, with only the elite races taking place.

"Obviously because of the pandemic it's a very different event to what it would have been, so it would be great to come back next year and experience it with big crowds along the route," said Sir Mo, who competes in Larne just eight days after setting a new one-hour world record of 21,330m in Brussels to beat the 21,285m set by the legendary Haile Gebrselassie in 2007.

"Of course it will depend on my schedule, which will be very much dictated by the Olympics," added Sir Mo, who did the 5,000m and 10,000m double at both London 2012 and Rio 2016.

The 37-year-old revealed he felt "relief" when the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were postponed and refused to rule out continuing his illustrious career beyond next summer's rescheduled Games.

"Races were being cancelled due to the pandemic so preparations for the Olympics had not been ideal. There was a sense of relief when the Games were postponed," said Sir Mo, stressing that he is in no rush to retire.

"I'm still hungry for more medals. Obviously I can't go on forever but I still have the fight in me. I have already taken out my coaching licence, so that would be one option, but it's on the back burner."

Race organiser McIlroy, who praised the hard work of the Larne AC volunteers, said: "It's great to have Mo here. We have known each other for 20 years and used to room together with Team GB.

"Mo won't have it all his own way - his duel with Marc Scott should be something special. There is a great line-up in the women's race too, headed by Jo Pavey."

The women's race starts at 8am and the men's race at 8.30am, both streamed live and started by a blast on the horn of the P&O Ferry.

Belfast Telegraph