Sir Mo Farah looks ahead to his final marathon on Sunday 23 April 2023
Sir Mo Farah revealed today (Thursday 20 April) that running his last marathon, the 2023 TCS London Marathon, would be “emotional” as he remembered his first Mini London Marathon at the age of 14.
With four Olympic and six World Championship gold medals to his name, as well as an Abbott World Marathon Majors victory in Chicago, where he set a new British record of 2:05:11 in 2018, Farah is not short of running accolades.
Even as a youngster he was wowing us in his home city, having won the Mini London Marathon on three occasions.
“London is where my journey started and where I did the Mini London Marathon,” said Farah. “On Sunday, I’m looking forward to seeing the crowds, experiencing the atmosphere and just enjoying it. There’s no better city than London. Being back is great.”
But this is excitement is tinged with sadness, as the 40-year-old prepares to bid farewell to the marathon distance.
Marking the 2023 TCS London Marathon as his last shot at a 26.2-mile race, Farah said: “This won’t be my last race, but it will be my last marathon.
“It has definitely been emotional over the past couple of years. In training my body hasn’t allowed me to do what I want it to do. You take it for granted when you just keep going – but as you get older things change and for me that’s been frustrating.
“I think the amazing support will get to me,” continued Farah, visualising his marathon swan song on Sunday. “Maybe after the race there’ll be a few tears.”
Farah was joined by Emile Cairess and Chris Thompson ahead of the showdown on Sunday. The British athletes, who will be running in the elite men’s race, considered what it meant for them to take on 26.2 miles in London this year, in the context of their own, very different marathon careers.
Just like Farah, 42-year-old Thompson is another crowd favourite with several marathons under his belt, including four impressive runs in London, with the Brit’s course best of 2:11:19 being achieved in his 2014 debut – the same year Farah raced the marathon distance for the first time.
Talking about his hopes for the 2023 race, Thompson said: “All you can do is control the controllables – after the race I don’t know what this year holds. I’m just trying to get the best out of myself on Sunday and do something I’m proud of.”
Thompson went on to commend the TCS London Marathon, describing it as a statement that stands out as something people should aspire to do, and which highlights the importance of physical and mental wellbeing – not to mention the positive impact of engaging in a sporting activity outside, in fresh air.
While both Farah and Thompson marked their marathon debuts almost a decade ago, 25-year-old Cairess is approaching the distance for the first time on Sunday.
The attention-grabbing debutant is already a formidable presence in the world of elite running, despite his young age. Having set a staggering new European 10-mile record of 45:57 in March this year, Cairess is also the joint-holder of the British 10K record (27:44) – alongside Farah – and the fourth-fastest British man in history over the half-marathon distance.
And while this Sunday’s marathon will be his first, Cairess is already considering a fruitful future at the distance.
“I definitely think the marathon is where my future lies – not on the track,” he said. “The track is a valuable stepping stone to being competitive in the marathon. I’ll still be doing short distances, regardless, but I consider myself a marathon runner.
“I’m going to feel out the race this Sunday and not do anything silly – and then do the Valencia Marathon in December if everything goes as planned.”
While no one can predict who will be the first British man to cross the Finish Line on Sunday, one thing is certain: Farah will end his marathon career on a high as he runs through the capital for a final time in front of a crowd that’s likely to feel just as emotional as he does.