Three Mo Miles

February 20, 2012

When I started running, pretty much exactly two years ago, I didn’t even know if I’d keep at it for a week. I certainly didn’t imagine that I would go on to complete the London Marathon, run a sub 90 minute half marathon, cajole 40% of my colleagues into running the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, win an organised, timed 5km run or become a running obsessed, six-day-a-week, gadget loving, pavement junky. Yesterday, I completed yet another unimaginable running first – I ran with Mo Farah, world 5,000m champion, favourite for Olympic gold and one of the greatest British long distance runners of all time.

Nike, who sponsor Mo, organised the run for 175 or so lucky participants who gathered in a small North London park on a beautiful but very chilly Sunday morning. The first thing that struck me about Mo is that he cuts a rather unassuming figure. He is certainly not one of these athletes whose presence dominates a room and I’m pretty sure most of the group didn’t even notice as he strolled into the grassy area where we waiting. Once his arrival had been noted, however, he got a pretty rapturous welcome and after a quick warm up and photo call we were off! The route turned out to be a shade under 3 miles, a little less than the advertised 5km.

In the first hundred yards I shoved to the front and found myself running shoulder to shoulder with the great man for several minutes. The pace was pretty sedate at this stage and we even managed to exchange a little banter. Mo is shorter and even skinnier than I expected. He is around my height, 5’9”, and can’t weigh much more than 10 stone. Weaving in and out of traffic and some sharp turns caused the field to bunch up and I soon gave up my place next to Mo. I clocked the first mile at a leisurely 7:53, although that did include a couple of traffic stops. The second mile was considerably quicker at 6:35 so by that stage we had lost all but about 20 or so of the runners. This was the most enjoyable part for me – we were shifting at a decent rate by my standards and I was hanging on to the leading pack. In the third (almost) mile the pace picked up again, and as the group spread out I was dropped by Mo and a few others. Running up a flight of stairs towards a finishing lap around Emirates Stadium didn’t help my cause much either! I completed the final third (including the stairs) in around 6:21 mile pace so Mo and co must have been under 6 minute mile pace. A little too rich for me, especially the morning after a tough parkrun! Of course, Mo didn’t even come close to breaking a sweat at any stage.

After the run we were invited into Emirates for a hot breakfast and a Q&A session. Mo was charming, open and inspiring. He trains twice a day, every day, racking up over 100 miles a week. He described 7 minute mile pace (which happens to be around my half marathon race pace) as a “nice, slow run”. He also talked about motivation, diet, altitude training, race preparation and his aspirations for the forthcoming Olympics. His eyes lit up the most, however, when asked about his recent training session with the Arsenal players. He also told a great story about his P.E. teacher bribing him into running by letting him kick a football around if he turned up for training early!

It was an incredible morning. I feel very lucky to have taken part and even have the rather snazzy running t-shirt Nike provided as a souvenir. The shirt has the slogan “One Mo Mile” on the front, but for me “Mo Miles” would have been more appropriate as I have been inspired to run many mo’ miles by my brush with greatness!


2 Responses to “Three Mo Miles”

  1. need2run Says:

    Very cool. Keep on running!

  2. […] a huge Mo Farah fan. I may have mentioned this before! Back in February, I was fortunate to run three miles with him.  Well, I ran one mile with him, one mile hanging on to the back of the group in which he was […]

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