Sir Mo Farah believes winning the London Marathon would be one of his biggest achievements.
Farah is one of Britain’s most decorated athletes, with four Olympic gold medals and multiple world titles, and his transition from the track to the marathon has gone well as he is the British and European record holder.
He claimed the British record in finishing third in the exhausting heat of London last year, with a time of two hours six minutes and 21 seconds, and then bettered that by 70 seconds to win the Chicago Marathon in October, taking the European record.
The 36-year-old will have to run the race of his life if he is to win on Sunday, though, as world record holder Eliud Kipchoge heads a stellar field.
The Kenyan smashed the world record by 78 seconds with a time of 2hrs 01min 39secs in winning in Berlin last September and is going for a men’s record fourth win in the capital.
“It would be an amazing achievement, my aim is to win the London Marathon one day,” Farah said.
“That is my task, but you can’t take it for granted because Eliud is a great athlete and a world record holder. If I do beat him it would be an amazing achievement.
“I don’t go out there to try and finish third or fourth. Sometimes you are beaten by a better man and you have to accept that and you go home and think about what you need to do to beat him.
“The rivalry is great for the sport, it’s one the sport needs. Eliud is a great athlete, he’s a world record holder, but I believe I can win more major marathons.”
Farah will have learned from last year’s race where he was in contention until the searing heat in the capital’s hottest ever marathon took its toll and he was unable to keep the pace with winner Kipchoge and runner-up Tola Shura Kitata.
“I am really excited to be back,” he added. “I am learning as a I go along, marathons are completely different to track.
“Racing against Eliud in London, learning the hard way, I do feel like I have learned a lot.
“It’s gone well in terms of running, it’s been perfect. I couldn’t ask for a better training.
“The crowd always help me in London, they do lift me up. I can’t wait to get out on the street.
“My aim is just to go out there and see what I can do.
“You have to stay positive and strong. Eliud has a bit more pressure than me, even though I am in London. I have to be smart in the race and give it 110 per cent.
“I’m fit and I have done some great training in the last three months. I am still learning and you only learn from more races.”
Fueling female athletes across the region, adidas has collaborated with three Saudi women who are changing the game and breaking barriers through running for its latest UltraBoost19 campaign.
This March, Ultraboost 19 takes over the streets of Jeddah, marking International Women’s Day and Saudi Women’s Day, as adidas tracks three inspirational women who constantly challenge themselves, bringing balance, perseverance and strength to their everyday.
Shot across different locations within Jeddah, with each location specifically curated for the athlete themselves, the campaign features well-known fitness instructor and the first sports abaya designer, Lojain Alrefae.
“The expectations of what I should and shouldn’t be as a woman is a heavy weight to carry, but with time I have learned to not let anything limit me and to be the strongest version of myself,” says Alrefae. “Doing this with adidas in my home city, and being filmed on the running strip of the Jeddah Corniche, could not make me more proud of who I am and where I’m from.
“With everything I do, I aim to come back faster and stronger – and I can with UB19.”
The locally-driven line-up also includes Raha Moharrak, the youngest Arab and first Saudi woman to summit the highest peak in the seven continents, who was shot in the mountain ranges of Jeddah; her natural playing field. “As a woman,” says Moharrak. “I’ve had to climb and overcome a lot of barriers on my way to reach the top and to be able to be the woman I am today.
“Being part of this awesome campaign with adidas encourages and empowers me to do anything I challenge and create for myself and I hope it helps me inspire others to reach their own summits.”
Saja Kamal, a two-time World Record Holder and football player, demonstrates her strength and tenacity in and around the historical area of Al Balad.
She said: “To be recognised as a female Saudi football player has meant that I’ve had to push myself to the limit to achieve this iconic position. The UB19 campaign demonstrates how perseverance and strength of character can accomplish absolutely anything – and with the movement and flexibility of the UB19 shoe – I’ve scored every goal I’ve ever set for myself.”
Keeping the approach authentic, the campaign was developed and shot by a local production house, with the stories of these driven women paired with their shoot locations, carefully selected to showcase not only the diverse streets and areas of Jeddah, but the unique personalities and skillsets of these phenomenal women.
adidas created the revolutionary Ultraboost 19, working alongside thousands of runners worldwide – and has now collaborated with these three individuals from the region to launch the localised Ultraboost 19 campaign.
An established icon within the adidas Running repertoire, the new Ultraboost 19 colourways are now available in adidas stores across the GCC and online.
Ultimate Athletics UAE is the place to be if you want to be a professional athlete and aim to reach the next level.
Track athletes test their abilities and then raise their level under the watchful eyes of experts at the Academy week in, week out.
But can anyone take up the challenge of preparing and then competing in a major competition?
Virgin Radio Dubai’s ‘Big Rossi’ has undertaken a huge challenge – competing in the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 28. And helping him in his quest is Ultimate Athletics UAE founder Lisa Campbell.
For starters, ‘Big Rossi’ had never ran competitively before and he has accepted an offer from Virgin and Ultimate Athletics sponsors New Balance to compete at the event in the UK, along with Virgin Radio Dubai’s head of programming Alex Agishev – aka ‘The crazy Russian Boss’ – and Ultimate Athletics coach Matthew Ashton, who is coaching ‘Big Rossi’.
The journey isn’t easy and ‘Big Rossi’ had to shed a few kilos to begin the arduous journey towards marathon fitness. Inner Fight and Dubai fitness guru Marcus Smith has helped ‘Big Rossi’ lose up to 9 kilos so far.
Getting miles in the legs are equally important and Ultimate Athletics Racenight in Dubai Sports City on Thursday was the first competitive race – 3,000m – that ‘Big Rossi’ took part in. He had participated in the Dubai Marathon 4km Fun Run but this was the real deal. It was the first step towards gradually increasing the workload towards the full 42k for the marathon.
“I have spent 37 years living an unhealthy lifestyle. I would have mood swings. Now I have got two kids. I just want to be fit,” ‘Big Rossi’ explained after completing his 3k run along with coach Ashton.
“Looking at photos of myself at the RedFestDXB, I was unhappy with how I looked. So I decided to make a change.”
It’s a gradual process and he took his first proper step on Thursday. But the marathon is still some way away and ‘Big Rossi’ will work with Ultimate Athletics on a weekly basis, gradually increasing the distances.
“My aim is to go 20 miles without stopping. Ultimately, I want to show that if I can do it, so can anyone,” ‘Big Rossi’ added.
‘Big Rossi’ will also step up his training by attending the weekly New Balance Run Club and doing long runs with coach Ashton. The task is only going to get tougher as ‘Big Rossi’ needs to compete in 10k, 15k and half marathon races before April 28.
His first event on Thursday was outside his target time – he wanted to finish each kilometre in five minutes i.e. a time of 15mins for the 3k. His finish time on Racenight was 15:21.
But with dedication and expert guidance, no challenge is too difficult. Just ask ‘Big Rossi’ and Ultimate Athletics.