In the end, it was a textbook victory from Mohamed Farah: a measured, controlled race that saw him dovetail with the leading pack for the majority of the race and culminated in his trademark kick at the last stretch. Farah’s record-equaling fourth victory at the Newcastle event arrived on a day in which Mary Keitany secured her third victory at the event, and saw the runner-up, Jake Robertson, propose to his girlfriend, Magdalyne Masai, at the finish line.
As expected, Farah was part of a leading group of runners that included Jake and Zane Robertson, Feyisa Lilesa and Dathan Ritzenhein. The pack dwindled down to just Jake Robertson and Farah around ten miles and the pair stayed close until the final 400m before the British runner crossed the line in 60:06, six seconds ahead of Robertson and Lilesa third (61:32). Dewi Griffiths was second Brit in 62:53, giving him seventh place.
Yet the pace was never ferocious and this was the slowest winning time Farah has recorded at the event, a factor he attributed post-race to his preparations: "That was really, really tough. I think it was a lack of training really. With four miles to go I was hanging on - but I managed to believe in myself and know that at the end I can sprint."
Farah will also be competing at another major British road race next year – London Marathon. He said: "The London Marathon is my home race and it is so special to me. The London Marathon has been a great supporter of me over the years."
If Farah left it late in making his decisive move, Keitany broke early to claim a comprehensive victory in the female field in 1:05:59, almost two minutes ahead of Vivian Cheruiyot (1:07:44). Caroline Kipkirui third (1:09:52). British pair Gemma Steele (1:11:32) and Lily Partridge (1:12:09) took sixth and seventh respectively.
The London Marathon winner later commented “I am very excited that I have won again for the third time. Despite the fact it was too windy, I just tried my best.”
As ever, the North East event captured the attention of the running world with close to 50,000 competitors making their way from the iconic Tyne Bridge and through Gateshead before passing the famous international athletics stadium and finishing in the coastal town of South Shields.
This year’s field were given their marching orders by Brendan Foster, who established the race in 1981 and has seen it become the world’s biggest half marathon.
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