On Tuesday, it was announced that Mo Farah will run at the Brussels Diamond League on September 4, although he won’t be competing in a traditional event. Instead of running in one of his favourites, like the 5,000m or 10,000m, Farah will be running for one hour to see how far he can go. He will be joined on the track by Belgium’s Bashir Abdi in a one-on-one race to see if either of them can beat Haile Gebrselassie‘s 13-year-old one-hour record of 21.285K. According to a BBC report, Ethiopian athletes Ababel Yeshaneh and Birhane Dibaba will also race to try and break the women’s one-hour record of 18.517K, set 12 years ago by Dire Tune.
— Memorial Van Damme (@MVDbrussels) June 23, 2020
The Diamond League is set to return in August, but due to the ongoing global struggle with the coronavirus, the meets won’t feature the same size of lineups that track fans are used to seeing at these big events. With a limited number of athletes at each meet, it will be up to organizers to come up with ways to make their events must-watch affairs. The Brussels Diamond League event has succeeded with that, and while there will be other events contested in Belgium that night, all eyes will be on the Farah versus Abdi and Yeshaneh versus Dibaba matchups.
Gebrselassie and Tune, both from Ethiopia, ran their records at the same venue in Ostrava, Czech Republic, just a year apart. Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic gold medallist in the 10,000m, ran his 21.285K in 2007. This is an average pace of 2:49 per kilometre. Farah ran his half-marathon PB of 59:07 at a faster pace than Gebrselassie’s hour record, but only barely, averaging 2:48 per kilometre. Abdi’s half-marathon record is 1:00:07, which works out to an average pace of 2:53 per kilometre. Running a road race is much different than competing on the track, but both men will probably have to dig pretty deep to surpass Gebrselassie’s record.
Ethiopia's Ababel Yeshaneh runs 64:31 at the RAK Half to take 20 seconds off the half marathon world record.
— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) February 21, 2020
Tune, an Olympian and Boston Marathon champion, ran her 18.517K in 2008, averaging a pace of 3:14 per kilometre throughout the run. Yeshaneh is the half-marathon world record-holder with a PB of 1:04:31, which she ran earlier this year at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates. This is an average pace of 3:03 per kilometre, way faster than Tune’s run. Dibaba, the 2015 Tokyo Marathon champion, has a 1:05:57 half-marathon PB — much slower than Yeshaneh’s world record, but still an average pace of 3:08 per kilometre, well ahead of Tune’s one-hour record pace.
The Brussels Diamond League event will also feature pole vault, a “triathlon” between heptathletes Nafi Thiam and Katarina Johnson-Thompson and several sprint events. A full program for the meet has yet to be released.