British record under attack from Mo Farah on Saturday in half-marathon packed with talent from the UK and Ireland
After his one-hour world record on the track in Brussels last week, Mo Farah is clearly in good shape. This Saturday (Sept 12) in Northern Ireland he will hope to translate that form into a quick performance on the roads – and maybe a British record – as he tackles the Antrim Coast Half Marathon.
The event, which is sponsored by P&O Ferries, is held on a flat, fast 13.1-mile course and Farah will have in his sights his UK record of 59:32 set in Lisbon in 2015. He has also run 59:07, but that was on the point-to-point Great North Run last year on a course not eligible for records.
James McIlroy, the former 800m runner, has put the fields together for this elite-only event and describes them as the strongest ever domestic line-up of UK and Irish runners for a half-marathon. McIlroy, who is also a long-time friend of Farah after having started at St Mary’s University College in Twickenham with him on the same day years ago, also believes it’s the best-quality road race ever in the province.
As well as Farah, the men’s race features in-form Marc Scott, who recently broke the UK 5km road record and took the British 5000m title in Manchester, plus Ben Connor and Tom Evans, whereas local Belfast runners Kevin Seaward and Stephen Scullion – the latter fresh from altitude training with Farah in Font Romeu – are also in the race.
Further entries include Adam Hickey, Josh Griffiths, Scott Overall and Nick McCormick.
The women’s line-up, meanwhile, includes Steph Davis (pictured below), Lily Partridge, Gemma Steel and Northern Ireland runner Emma Mitchell. In addition, Sam Harrison, Ann Marie McGlynn, Clara Evans, Lucy Reid and Becky Briggs are set to compete.
What’s more, Alyson Dixon and Iraitz Arrospide Garro, the two reigning world 50km champions, add to the quality. Originally from Spain, Arrospide Garro has spent recent years based in Sheffield.
Five-time Olympian Jo Pavey was originally due to compete but is going to now be part of the commentary team instead.
With no Great North Run this weekend due to coronavirus, the athletes are clearly keen to test themselves somewhere over 13.1 miles. Some are due to race the London Marathon on October 4 too.
A September half-marathon has frequently featured in Farah’s racing schedule as he has competed at every Great North Run since 2013, winning six times. But in June organisers announced that the 2020 event, which would have been the 40th edition, would not be taking place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Following this, Farah is set to pace runners who are aiming for the Olympic qualifying time at the London Marathon next month.
Farah said: “I’m really looking forward to taking part in the Antrim Coast Half Marathon. It’s a fast course, really exciting to see what I can do.”
— Sir Mo Farah (@Mo_Farah) August 31, 2020
On the eve of the race he also told BBC that the most important thing was to win the race and not to simply treat it as a time trial.
Starting at the Chaine Memorial tower, the course sweeps through Larne town before moving on to the iconic Antrim Coast Road – a picturesque coastal area used in the popular TV series Game of Thrones – and then a homeward turnaround Ballygally Castle.