Mo Farah blitzed to a new world record in the rarely-run one-hour event on his return to the track on Friday at an empty Brussels stadium that also saw Sifan Hassan set a new best in the women’s equivalent race.
Three years after having opted for road running, Farah showed no sign of cobwebs as he ran 21.330 kilometres over the 60 minutes behind closed doors at the Brussels Diamond League meet at the King Baudouin Stadium.
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Farah, who won 5,000-10,000m doubles for Britain at both the London and Rio Olympics, bettered Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie’s previous best of 21.285km, set back in 2007, by 45 metres.
“I’m very pleased to break the world record today,” said Farah. “What an amazing way to do it and show people what is possible.”
It was a formidable record: the equivalent of 52-and-a-half laps at an average of 67 seconds per lap, or 2:47min per kilometre.
And at one stage, the 37-year-old Briton, also a six-time world gold medallist, looked to have dropped that vital programmed pace, with Belgian training partner Bashir Abdi still in the running.
There might have been no crowd thanks to coronavirus-induced health protocols, but the record attempt featured piped-in music, audience cheering and a visual time guidance aid: 400 LED lights installed in drainage covers that lit up to mirror the desired pace.
Farah and Abdi duly took note of the flashing lights and upped the pace to get back on record-setting time.
With five minutes to run, Abdi took the lead for the first time, sweeping Farah around on his coat-tails.
As the gun fired for the final minute, Farah opened up his rangy stride to shoot past the Belgian and maintain his form through to a second gunshot that ended the race.
While Farah holds every British record for all events between the 1,500m and marathon, it was his first ever world record.