Mo Farah opened his 2021 racing season Friday at the Djibouti International Half-Marathon, winning the race in a time of 1:03:06. This was his first competition since he ran the Antrim Coast Half Marathon on September 12, where he crossed the finish line in 60:27 for the win. After spending the last seven weeks at a training camp in Ethiopia, this race was meant to be a test of fitness ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, where the four-time Olympic champion will be hunting for another gold medal.
The Djibouti Half-Marathon is a special race for the 37-year-old, because it’s a chance for him to run in the place where he spent his childhood before moving to Britain. In an interview with Athletics Weekly ahead of the race, Farah was not shy about his goal: he was there to win.
“It’s not just going to be a case of me turning up. It’s going to be tough and there are a lot of decent guys racing so I’ll just go out there and see what I can do,” he said. ““It’ll be good to get back in the right frame of mind in terms of racing again and to test myself.”
As Farah predicted, the race was tough, and he didn’t win it handily. His training partner Bashir Abdi finished only four seconds behind him in 1:03:10, and the top seven men all ran under 1:05.
With the Tokyo Games only four-and-a-half months away, Farah will now be turning his attention to the track as he prepares to defend his 10,000m Olympic title. With competitors like Joshua Cheptegei, who ran a 26:11.00 for 10K last October, challenging him for the win, this won’t be an easy feat, but Farah told AW that results like that get him “fired up.”
“It’s not just Cheptegei – there’s Jacob Kiplimo, Moh Ahmed – you’ve got so many guys coming through at the moment and I think it’s exciting for the sport to have all of these people at that level.”
While his result in Djibouti was a few minutes off his half-marathon personal best of 59:32 (set in 2015), Farah did exactly what he set out to do, which was to test his fitness and win the race. With that goal accomplished, it’s safe to say that Farah is progressing well toward the Olympics, and we look forward to seeing what he will do on the track this summer.