To put Mo Farah’s 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon performance of 2:05:11 into perspective, it was likely just enough and nothing more, by the high-achieving athlete. Unlike his global championships efforts, it missed the mark on being an indelible moment in his career. It appeared that he only ran as fast as he had to, to win. Saying that, he can’t really have that so-called indelible moment in the marathon without challenging Eliud Kipchoge straight-up.
There is no athlete quite like Kenya’s Kipchoge. Having run the current world record of 2:01:39 at the 2018 BMW Berlin Marathon in September, there is just no upstaging that performance. He has also run 2:00:25 during the time trial-style marathon dubbed Breaking2, an effort from May 6, 2017, that took place at the Formula One Autodromo Nazionale Monza race track in Italy.
Two years ago, Kipchoge ran the London Marathon in the time of 2:03:05. This is currently the fifth fastest performance all-time. Last year, he ran 2:03:32 in Berlin, the 10th fastest all-time. He has also run 2:04:00, 2:04:05, 2:04:11, 2:04:17, 2:04:42 and 2:05:00. He owns the 1st, 5th, 8th, 17th, 21st, 24th and 29th best performances ever. Kipchoge also won gold in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. On a very warm day, he ran 2:08:44.
Farah’s Chicago performance is a nondescript 76th fastest all-time.
The fastest Chicago Marathon time in history was run by former world record holder Dennis Kimetto at 2:03:45 from 2013; it currently stands as the 11th fastest, all-time. The Kenyan went on to set the world standard at 2:02:57 the following year in Berlin.
The only way that Farah could have turned heads last Sunday in Chicago would be to take on Kimetto or now Kipchoge head-to-head, not his former training partner Galen Rupp of the US and a small collection of semi-known East Africans. As Kimetto and Kipchoge were not there, breaking 2:03:45 would have sufficed.
Should Farah have attacked the 2:03:45 Chicago course record and fell short – the chat forums would have lit up about failure; he just needed to win, make the cover of the Chicago Tribune and collect the paycheque, not unlike his 2014 London Marathon experience, having run a 2:08:21. It was 29 years since England’s Steve Jones ran a 2:08:16 in London. That was the year he ran a 2:07:13 in Chicago.
Not to suggest that he ducks the very best competition, but rather, he makes the most of his opportunities.
Farah wins when it matters. He has dominated the 5,000 and 10,000-metre distances over his career and has had a virtual stranglehold on the Olympic and IAAF World Championship gold medals as well as the prestigious Diamond League meets. He owns six world championships golds and four Olympic golds. He has won at least 20 Diamond League races ranging in distance from two miles to the 10,000-metres.
According to the IAAF, Farah has run the 5,000-metres in an impressive 12:53.11 and the 10,000-metres in 26:46.57. His half-marathon best is 59:32. This is comparable to Kipchoge’s bests of 2:46.53, 26:49.02 and 59:25 and Kimetto’s best at the half-marathon of 59:14.
In fairness to Farah, he ran in Chicago, a different marathon experience than Berlin.
Eight of the top 11 times in history have been run on the Berlin course, nine of the top-12 and 12 of the top 20 are from Berlin.
Chicago is a very fast course that produces hundreds of personal best performances every year. It is flat as a pancake, however, can be subject to changing wind directions among the tall buildings. Berlin almost never seems to fail when it comes to weather.
London is another fast course, in theory; the three fastest laid-out courses may just be Berlin, London and Chicago in that order. Honourable mentions should to go to Rotterdam, Dubai and perhaps Paris, Tokyo and Frankfurt.
At the end of the day, Farah needs to run Berlin or at least the London Marathon with his greatest effort against the world’s best marathon runners to possibly have that indelible marathon moment to add to all of his indelible 5,000 and 10,000-metre performances. Until then, Kipchoge is King.
At age 35, he better get on it. Kipchoge is age 33 and Kimetto is 34; the time is nigh upon them.