Mo Farah bridged a gap of 33 years as he sprinted to a thrilling victory in a British and European course record time at another memorable Morrisons Great North Run.
The 32-year old Great British distance running hero started his 2015 racing schedule by setting a world indoor two miles best on home ground in Birmingham in February and finished it in style as he emerged triumphant from a gripping duel with Kenyan marathon man Stanley Biwot.
Farah kicked to victory with just 150m to go, winning by two seconds in 59 minutes 22 seconds – ten seconds quicker than the official British and European record he set for the 13.1 mile distance in Lisbon in March
In doing so, the Londoner became the first British man to win the world’s biggest half marathon since Tynesider Mike McLeod, who triumphed in the first two Great North Runs in 1981 and 1982.
Kenya’s Mary Keitany retained the elite women’s crown, with Charwood’s Gemma Steel the runner up again, while there was British success in the wheelchair races, David Weir taking the men’s prize for a record-equalling sixth time and Shelley Woods winning the women’s section for the seventh time.
It was the elite men’s race that took centre stage, though, with Farah tackling his first challenge since completing his global ‘triple double’ with his gold medal winning 5000m and 10,000m runs at the World Championship in Beijing last month.
Farah was attempting to become only the third winner of back to back titles in the elite men’s race, after McLeod in 1981-82 and Kenya’s Benson Masya in 1991-92.
Masya was a bantamweight boxer before he became a world champion half marathon runner and, fittingly enough, Farah floated like a butterfly for 13 miles on the road from Newcastle before stinging like a bee - finishing in the high speed manner of McLeod, who was affectionately known in his heyday as ‘Mick the kick.
The 50,000 field were set on their way by Britain’s European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey, Kenya’s world 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop and England footballer Lucy Bronze, and Farah was in the vanguard of a 13-strong lead group that passed the opening mile mark in 4 minutes 40 seconds.
Since 1981 the world's greatest half marathon has welcomed over one million people across the finish line in South Shields and we're looking forward to cheering on the next million. Due to the popularity of this event we have an entry ballot in place that opens early in 2016. Sign up to the reminder service so we can let you know when the ballot opens.