London – Mo Farah is all set for the unusual experience of being a 'first-timer' in a major race when the British track star makes his marathon debut in London on Sunday.
It was in London two years ago that Farah won gold in both the Olympic 5 000 metres and 10 000m, joining a select group of athletes to have triumphed in both long-distance races at the same Games.
It was a double he repeated at last year's World Championships in Moscow but, while he is used to controlling the pace on the track, Farah now faces a field full of top-class marathon runners.
His rivals on Sunday include Uganda's world and Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich, Kenya's Wilson Kipsang, the world record-holder, and double-defending London champion Tsegaye Kebede.
“If you look at the field in terms of the athletes, which athletes in there are running their first marathon?” Farah said.
“Pretty much none. Hardly any of the runners are running their first marathon so they know what it feels like.
“I'll give 100 percent and try not to disappoint the crowd Ä
it's about finding out what can I do? That's the question.”
He added: “It is strange feeling like a novice. In track races you know if you go to the front you can control a race.
“It's the distance more than the race Ä as a track runner you can constantly cover the distance in training.
“But in this one I just don't know what's going to happen Ä I'm really looking forward to it and now it's just about finding out if I'm good or not.”
But it is not impossible for a marathon debutant to emerge victorious ÄEthiopia's Kenenisa Bekele won on his first competitive attempt at the 26.2 miles distance in Paris last week.
Bekele and Farah are the only two athletes to have won back-to-back Olympic and world 5,000m and 10,000m titles.
“It does give me good confidence,” Farah said. “If he can do it then why can't I?”
Farah's stamina was called into question after the New York City half-marathon last month where he fell early on and collapsed following the finishing the line before being led away in a wheelchair.
But a bullish Farah insisted: “My plan is to go hard or go home. Racing in London and having the fans and the crowd it gives me a massive boost Ä that's what excites me.”
Meanwhile the women's race also features a track star making a marathon debut in Ethiopia's Olympic and world 10,000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba.
She will be in a field also featuring 2013 London winner Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya as well as Ethiopia's reigning Olympic marathon champion Tiki Gelana, whose hopes of victory in London last year were dashed by a collision with a wheelchair racer. – Sapa-AFP