London Marathon 2023: Mo Farah Prepares For ’emotional Goodbye’ At Home Race

Mo Farah called time on his track career in 2017 but returned in 2021 in a bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics
Mo Farah at the 2018 London Marathon
Mo Farah has run the London Marathon three times – finishing fifth in 2019, third in 2018 and eighth on his debut in 2014

Mo Farah is preparing to say an “emotional” London Marathon “goodbye” to his home support after confirming his participation in April’s race.

The four-time Olympic champion, 39, expects 2023 to be his final year of racing before retirement.

But he is unsure if the marathon will be his last competitive event, saying he will take it “one race at a time”.

Commonwealth Games 10,000m champion Eilish McColgan will make her marathon debut in the event on 23 April.

“Without the fans I don’t think I would have ever achieved what I have,” said Farah.

“It is just nice to say goodbye and I think it will be quite emotional.”

Both Farah and McColgan were due to run in 2022 but had to pull out because of fitness problems.

The London Marathon returns to its pre-pandemic spring slot for the first time in three years and will be broadcast live on BBC TV, iPlayer and online.

‘I just want to give myself one more shot’ – Farah

Mo Farah called time on his track career in 2017 but returned in 2021 in a bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics

A hip injury prevented Farah, who turns 40 in March, from taking part in last year’s event and this will be his first full marathon since 2019, where he came fifth.

The British marathon record holder is set to contest his fourth London Marathon and has a best finish of third in 2018 – the year he would also go on to claim his only major marathon win in Chicago.

“It has been an amazing career and, for me, to take part in London Marathon is a big deal,” said Farah.

“I have always said it would be nice to win it one day, but it takes a lot.”

The six-time world track champion, winner of the Big Half in London in September, has raced just seven times since October 2019.

Although he failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics – and surprisingly lost out to club runner Ellis Cross at the London 10,000 last May – he admits competing for his country still motivates him.

“I am very proud of what I have achieved and I just want to give myself one more shot and see what I can do. But I have nothing to prove,” Farah added.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics and I think 2023 will probably be my last year.

“At the same time, if it came down to it towards the end of the year and I was picked for the country then I would never turn that down.”

Destiny calls for McColgan in ‘bucket-list’ race

Eilish McColgan
McColgan won 10,000m gold and 5,000m silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

For McColgan, her debut London Marathon appearance feels like destiny.

The 32-year-old, whose mother Liz won the London Marathon in 1996, claimed a total of four Commonwealth and European medals in a stellar 2022, in which she also broke Paula Radcliffe’s 21-year-old British half marathon record.

Although too young to recall her mother’s victory 27 years ago, pictures and videos of that day – in addition to a long-held awareness of her own strengths – means her first run on the famous course is an occasion long in the making.

“For me the iconic London Marathon is my mum coming down that last stretch,” McColgan said.

“The race is something I remember my mum and dad speaking about from a young age so it feels surreal to be taking part myself. I always thought one day I would do it.

“It’s such an iconic race, even people who haven’t got an interest in running know about the London Marathon. It’s definitely a bucket-list race for me.

“My mum always told me ‘one day you’ll be a marathoner’. To be honest that petrified me as a kid but I think deep down I knew that was where my career was going.”

The Scot was forced to postpone her debut because of a medical issue called rebound hypoglycemia, which leads to reduced blood sugar levels, and McColgan is hopeful she has found a solution in the form of a carbohydrate drink following tests.

“It’s a case of trialling the drink in a few more long runs. If that doesn’t work, they have another idea,” McColgan added. “It’s up to me to be honest and say whether I feel better or worse. Last year, there wasn’t the time to trial things.”

McColgan will be joined in the women’s race by Jess Piasecki and Charlotte Purdue – the second and fourth-fastest British females of all time.

Also in the men’s event for the first time is European cross-country silver medallist Emile Cairess, while last year’s first British finisher Weynay Ghebresilasie returns.

By Harry PooleBBC Sport