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Mo Farah breaks Haile Gebrselassie’s one-hour world record by 45 metres

Farah raced with his training partner Bashir Abdi of Belgium, who set a national record for one hour and broke Gebrselassie's 20K world record

Mo Farah

At his first track race in three years, multiple Olympic and world champion and British record holder Sir Mo Farah set his first world record today at Brussels Diamond League, completing 21.330 kilometres in one hour, 45 metres farther than Haile Gebrselassie’s mark of 21.285 km set in 2007.

Farah’s training partner Bashir Abdi of Belgium, who won the 10,000m at the European championships in 2018 and who finished second at this year’s Tokyo Marathon, stayed close to Farah throughout most of the race, briefly taking the lead in the last five minutes, as if giving his mate a target and temporarily relieving him of the relentless work required to run the distance. Abdi ran 21.322 kilometres, a national record for the Belgian. He also broke Gebrselassie’s 20,000m world record of 56:25.98, with 56:20.02 (he was briefly ahead of Farah on the track).

RELATED: Sifan Hassan breaks one-hour world record by 413 m

Three other men ran national records: third-place finisher Emil Millan de Oliva of Sweden, with 20.128 km, Mohamed Ali of the Netherlands in fifth place with 20.055 km and Abdi Hakin Ulad of Denmark with 19,985 km.

At the halfway mark, Farah and Abdi were just slightly behind target pace, clearly running only as hard as they knew they must, but doing their best to conserve energy for the second half of the race. At 36 minutes in, they had fallen further behind, and it looked as if the record was slowly slipping from their grasp. But a few minutes later they had made up the distance and were back on track, so to speak, with the record firmly in their sights.

The target pace was 67s per lap, 2:47.5 per km, just slightly faster than Gebrselassie’s 68-second laps. Farah’s final lap was a speedy 63.9 seconds, and his pace works out to 4:31 per mile–for one hour. 

RELATED: Mo Farah set to run one-hour record attempt and half-marathon a week apart

Farah said the first few months of the pandemic presented many challenges, with his four children unable to attend school and him unable to train as he’d like. But he was able to spend several weeks training at altitude in the Pyrenees, which clearly benefitted them.

Farah plans to race the Antrim Coast Half-Marathon in Larne, Northern Ireland, eight days from now, and is eyeing the world record at that distance also. On October 4 he will be a pacemaker at the London Marathon.

Earlier today, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands broke the women’s one-hour world record, while second-place finisher Brigid Kosgei of Kenya was later disqualified for briefly stepping off the track.

Full results for all today’s races can be found here.