London: Paula Radcliffe has warned Mo Farah that his world and Olympic medals on the track are no guarantee of marathon success and that only time will tell whether he has the physical resilience to extend his dominance to the 26.2-mile distance.
Radcliffe, the women’s world-record holder for the past decade, said that she was impressed by Farah’s endurance levels on their long training runs together at their high-altitude camp in Kenya last year but cited the example of South African runner Elana Meyer as evidence that the transition from track to road was not always smooth.
Meyer, a 10,000 metres silver medallist at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, went on to take the world half-marathon title, but she never won a marathon and her career-best time was almost 10 minutes slower than Radcliffe’s world mark.
“She never translated to what we thought she would have run - anywhere near it - for a marathon,” Radcliffe said.
“I don’t think that’s because she didn’t prepare right or train hard enough or she didn’t try hard enough. I don’t think she was big enough. I don’t think she had enough reserves in her to keep it going all the way through a marathon. She just kept hitting the wall all the time at 20 to 22 miles. Mo is very skinny but he’s got lots of strength there. But you just don’t know.”
All will be revealed when Farah makes his marathon debut in the 2014 Virgin London Marathon after it was announced on Saturday that the double Olympic champion had signed an unusual two-race deal that will see him race just the first half of this year’s marathon. He will then revert to the track to prepare for another 5,000m and 10,000m double attempt at the World Championships in Moscow in August.
Farah says he wants to use the race on April 21 to familiarise himself with the course, although his involvement in the event probably owes more to the size of the appearance fee. London Marathon race director Hugh Brasher refused to be drawn on figures but the deal is likely to be in excess of £300,000 (Dh1.7 million) for the two races. Usain Bolt, the world’s highest-paid athlete and a client of the same management company as Farah, is believed to command more than £200,000 per appearance.
Radcliffe admitted she was surprised at Farah’s decision to run just half a race this year and believes he should have attempted the full distance. She does not accept that it would have interfered with his track ambitions this year, pointing to the personal bests she set in the 5,000m and 10,000m in 2002 after making her own marathon debut in London in 2002.
She said: “I wouldn’t have done that, because you’re going in against people you’re going to be racing against next year, and I almost think you should go in when you’re ready. He’s showing his hand a little bit.” Radcliffe’s own marathon career is now almost certainly over after she revealed that she is to undergo further surgery on her left foot because of a screw that was inserted to hold her bones together has become loose, making it too painful to run.
“I just want to be able to run and play with my kids,” she said. “At the moment if they run, I just have to shout ‘stop’. I’m not even thinking about getting back to running a marathon again.”
On Farah, she added: “I think he could run very, very well, but the depth on the men’s side is scary at the moment. He could run 2hr 4min and there could be 10 people still around him.”
Farah, who will compete in only his second half-marathon in New Orleans next weekend, was the star attraction at the British Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday, where he ran a comfortable 3,000m victory in 7 minutes and 42 seconds.
Some excellent British performances, notably Holly Bleasdale’s pole vault victory, Shara Proctor’s long-jump win and lifetime bests for Perri Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child in the women’s 400m and Michael Rimmer and Mukhtar Mohammad in the men’s 800m, will have impressed Britain’s selectors, who were due to choose the squad for next month’s European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg on Monday.