BRUSSELS, BELGIUM, September 04—King Baudouin Stadium was nearly empty, of course, but not because Mo Farah’s attack on Haile Gebrselassie’s Hour WR in the last event of the evening elicited no interest. Quite the contrary, for this was not only a run at a 13-year-old global standard belonging to a legend, but also Sir Mo’s first track outing since winning the 5000 at Zürich’s ’17 DL Final just over 3 years ago.
Geb’s mark, 21,285m (13M, 397y; aka 13.22M), set in Ostrava in June of ’07, was no soft target even though the event is rarely contested, and there was curiosity in abundance over how Farah, 37, would look on the oval as he contemplates a return to the 10,000 game for the Olympics.
Answer: Fine and dandy. With training partner Bashir Abdi right with him for most of 53-plus laps Farah got his record, covering 21,330m (13 miles, 446y/13.25M) over the course of the hour hand’s sweep for a 45m (just shy of 50y) improvement on the Ethiopian’s yardage. Belgian Abdi, too, ran under the Geb standard finishing 8m back at 21,322m (13.24M).
Having trained for the assault at some 1800m (c5900ft) of altitude in Font Romeu, France, Farah and Abdi needed to average better than 67.65 per circuit to meet their goal, and kept the outcome in question, even if never far out of reach by their calculations, most of the way. Through 3000 and 5000 splits of 8:27 and 14:06 laid down by rabbit Simon Debognies, they stayed right on point although not always evenly. At 4K, the 11:16 split trailed Geb’s rabbit’s 11:13. They went past 8K, with second hare Peter Kiprotich in front, in 28:12 equal with Geb’s group.
Hitting the half-hour with 10,640m down, Farah and Abdi set off just the two of them with the Briton leading. Pace lights aided the effort and spectators out in what used to be TV Land, most viewing on the internet, stayed informed by a “virtual Gebrselassie” overlaid in lane 3. Not exactly a Geb doppelgänger, the digital Ethiopian soldiered forward with a sprinter’s arm carriage. By 16K (45:07) they were 2 seconds up on Gebrselassie’s tempo and built the margin to 4 seconds by 18K.
At 9600, Abdi, perhaps sensing some tightening in Farah’s form, went ahead and thus claimed the WR for 20,000m, 56:20.02, 0.28 in front of Mo and 5.96 faster than Geb’s standard from Ostrava. (Abdi’s WR is in the unofficial category, since WA removed the distance—along with the 25,000 and 30,000—from its list of ratifiable events last fall.)
Just before the firing of the “bell” gun at 59:00, Farah went to his patented kick and dashed ahead. When the hour finished and the record was Mo’s, he didn’t hear the gun and kept running until shouts behind him made it clear he could stop. Abdi dropped, spent on his back on the track, where he was attended to by manager Jos Hermens—a former Hour record-setter himself and Gebrselassie’s agent.
“I was very excited to be back on the track,” Farah said. “When the organization asked me to attack the 1-hour World Record, I was really happy and motivated, certainly with all the meets getting canceled. My first meet back on the track was what was driving me. I knew I was in great shape after the hard work I did in the last 6 weeks”
Farah conceded the run had tested him. “At a certain point, with just 10 laps to go, it became tough so I was happy that Bashir took the lead. However, I felt great with just 1 minute to go. I kept believing in my speed so I knew I had a good chance to take this win. A last fast lap is still my best tactic.
“It isn´t supposed to be easy to break a World Record, but I can tell you that it was really hard. The record stood for a very long time, so that says a lot.
“I love having an audience and the fans. But on the other hand you know that this situation is for all of us. We´re just lucky to be able to have such a competition.”
The best of the evening’s two field events was the men’s vault, with Mondo Duplantis cranking out yet another 6-meter (19-8¼) performance, his eighth in 12 meets so far this year. He failed thrice at an outdoor WR 20-2 (6.15).
BRUSSELS DL MEN’S RESULTS
Van Damme Memorial; Brussels, Belgium, September 04—
200(0.1): 1. Eseosa Desalu (Ita) 20.39; 2. Ján Volko (Svk) 20.81; 3. Jiri Polák (CzR) 20.89; 4. Kojo Musah (Den) 20.99; 5. Julien Watrin (Bel) 21.04; 6. Richard Kilty (GB) 21.27; 7. Jonathan Borlée (Bel) 21.30; 8. Marcus Lawler (Ire) 21.33.
1500: 1. Jakob Ingebrigtsen (Nor) 3:30.69 (2:48.13); 2. Jesús Gomez (Spa) 3:34.64; 3. Boaz Kiprugut (Ken) 3:37.93; 4. Ismael Debjani (Bel) 3:38.00; 5. Charlie Da’Vall Grice (GB) 3:38.22; 6. Saúl Ordóñez (Spa) 3:38.38; 7. Marius Probst (Ger) 3:38.50; 8. Isaac Kimeli (Bel) 3:38.54; 9. Quentin Tison (Fra) 3:39.26;… rabbits—Mounir Akbache (Fra) (53.56), Evans Kipchumba (Ken) (1:51.14).
1 Hour: 1. Mo Farah (GB) 21,330m (13M, 446y) (13.25M) WR (old WR 21,285m/13M, 397y/13.22M Haile Gebrselassie [Eth] ’07) (20K—56:20.30 NR [2, 2 W]);
2. Bashir Abdi (Bel) 21,322m (13.24M) NR (2, 2 W) (20K—56:20.02 WR [old WR 56:25.98 Gebrselassie ’07);
3. Emil Millán de la Oliva (Swe) 20,128m (12.50M); 4. Soufiane Bouchikhi (Bel) 20,126m (12.50M); 5. Mohamed Ali (Neth) 20,055m (12.46M); 6. Abdi Hakin Ulad (Den) 19,985m (12.41M);… rabbits—Simon DeBognies (Bel), Robert Keter (Ken).
(2K leader splits—DeBognies 5:38, 5:38 [11:16]; Keter 5:39 [16:55], 5:39 [23:34], 5:38 [28:12]; Farah 5:39 [33:51], 5:39 [39:30], 5:37 [45:07], 5:36 [50:43]; Abdi 5:23 [56:20]; Farah 3:40).
PV: 1. Mondo Duplantis (Swe) 19-8¼ (6.00) (18-½, 18-8¼, 19-¼, 19-8¼, outdoor WR 20-2 [xxx]) (5.50, 5.70, 5.80, 6.00, 6.15 [xxx]); 2. Ben Broeders (Bel) 18-8¼ (5.70); 3. Chris Nilsen (US) 18-4½ (5.60); 4. Claudio Michel Stecchi (Ita) 18-4½; 5. Thomas van der Plaetsen (Bel) 17-8½ (5.40);… nh—Thiago Braz (Bra).
Hassan Claims Women’s Hour Best
Sifan Hassan, the reigning world champ in both the 1500 and 10,000, put on another display of her breathtaking range, shattering the World Record in the rarely run hour race by 413m (468y). When the final gun sounded, the Flying Dutchwoman had covered 18,930m (11.76M, 1341y for imperial fans; or, 11M, 1341y for non-decimal fans). The old best of 18,517m (11.50M/11M, 888y) had been set 12 years ago by Ethiopia’s Dire Tune.
The pace here would not have been possible without fiery competition from Kenyan Brigid Kosgei, who led much of the latter half and was still with Hassan at 300 to go. Kosgei, the marathon WR holder, was at 18,904 (11.74M) when the buzzer went off, then she found out she had been disqualified.
The infraction came at 53 minutes, coming off a turn, when the Kenyan lost her balance slightly and took one step directly on the curb. For that officials struck her name from the record books as the No. 2 ever at the distance.
The pacing lights were never a factor, since the leaders were well under record pace from the start. Rabbit Sheila Chelangat of Kenya led a pack of 5 for the first 38 minutes. She had no problem staying under the record pace of 3:14 and change per kilometer, passing 5K in 16:01.87 and 10K even faster, 31:52.45.
She finished with a flourish, her final kilo of 3:07.08 the fastest in the race. All along Kosgei stayed directly behind her countrywoman, with Hassan right behind her from 5K on.
The final 22 minutes or so was a riveting duel between Kosgei and Hassan. One of the slowest kilometers (#14) came when Kosgei eased up in an apparent effort to force Hassan to help with the lead. Hassan did so for a lap before Kosgei went to the fore again. Several more lead changes came in the final 15 minutes, but the race—anyone’s for the first 59 minutes—became Hassan’s when the 1-minute warning gun sounded.
She unleashed her trademark kick, with Kosgei fighting back hard for the next 200m before realizing it was futile and trudging in for the final 20 seconds.
“I’m so happy,” said Hassan, who indicated she didn’t feel so good in the early going but got better as the race went on. “It was a very strong race. That’s really fantastic. I never thought I would run so fast.”
The all-time list took a beating, with Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter also breaking the record with her 18,571 (11.53M). The next 3 also broke into the all-time top 10.
Putting this mark into perspective, Hassan actually went at a faster speed in her half-marathon PR of 65:15—that pace would have put her at about 19,399m (12M, 95y) at the hour mark. And she is only at No. 10 on the half-marathon all-time list, 44 seconds behind Yeshaneh Ababel’s WR.
Svetlana Masterkova’s World Record of 2:28.98 in the 1000m may be 24 years old but perhaps isn’t as easy of a target as it might seem. Olympic 1500 gold medalist Faith Kipyegon gave it a second go here, after narrowly missing it with her 2:29.15 in Monaco 2 weeks ago.
Benin’s Noélie Yarigo did an admirable job as pacer, producing a nice 28.9/58.94 tempo for the first lap and taking Kipyegon, her only follower, through 600 in 1:29.0. After that the Kenyan was on her own, passing 800 in 1:59.19 but failing to muster the necessary kick. She finished in 2:29.92, winning by more than 5 seconds with the No. 5 performance ever.
BRUSSELS DL WOMEN’S RESULTS
100(0.2): 1. Rani Rosius (Bel) 11.43; 2. Carolle Zahi (Fra) 11.56; 3. Irene Siragusa (Ita) 11.57; 4. Mathilde Kramer (Den) 11.58; 5. Angela Tenorio (Ecu) 11.68; 6. Cynthia Bolingo (Bel) 11.72; 7. Vittoria Fontana (Ita) 11.74.
400: 1. Iga Baumgart-Witan (Pol) 52.13; 2. Anita Horvat (Slo) 52.70; 3. Patrycja Wyciszkiewicz (Pol) 52.78; 4. Camille Laus (Bel) 52.81; 5. Alice Mangione (Ita) 52.85; 6. Paulien Couckuyt (Bel) 53.08; 7. Amandine Brossier (Fra) 53.64; 8. Margo van Puyvelde (Bel) 54.32.
1000: 1. Faith Kipyegon (Ken) 2:29.92 (x, 5 W) (1:59.19);
2. Esther Guerrero (Spa) 2:35.64 PR; 3. Lindsey Butterworth (Can) 2:37.26; 4. Elise Vanderelst (Bel) 2:37.86 PR; 5. Eleonora Vandi (Ita) 2:38.48; 6. Renée Eykens (Bel) 2:39.15 PR; 7. Fancy Cherono (Ken) 2:45.78; 8. Mercy Chepkurui (Ken) 2:50.16;… rabbit—Noélie Yarigo (Ben) (58.94).
1 Hour: 1. Sifan Hassan (Neth) 18,930m (11M, 1341y) (11.76M) WR (old WR 18,517m/11M, 888y/11.50M Dire Tune [Eth] ’08);
2. Lonah Chemtai Salpeter (Isr) 18,571m (11.53M) NR (2, 2 W); 3. Eva Cherono (Ken) 18,341m (11.39M) NR (4, 4 W); 4. Helen Tola (Eth) 17,974m (11.16M) NR (8, 10 W); 5. Sarah Lahti (Swe) 17,955m (11.15M) (9, 11 W);
6. Marta Galimany (Spa) 17,546m (10.90M) NR; 7. Likina Amebaw (Eth) 17,323 (10.76M); 8. Nina Lauwaert (Bel) 17,315m (10.75M) NR; 9. Elena Loyo (Spa) 16,935m (10.52M);… dq[curb]—Brigid Kosgei (Ken) [18,904m/11.74M—2, 2 W];… rabbit—Sheila Chelangat (Ken).
(2K leader splits: Chelangat 6:25, 6:24 [12:49], [19:11], 6:21 [25:32], 6:21 [31:53], 6:17 [38:10]; Hassan 6:20 [44:30]; Kosgei 6:21 [50:51], 6:26 [57:17], 2:43)
100H(-0.2): 1. Anne Zagré (Bel) 13.21; 2. Mette Graversgaard (Den) 13.26; 3. Sarah Missinne (Bel) 13.55; 4. Katarina Johnson-Thompson (GB) 13.57; 5. Joni Tomicic Prezelj (Slo) 13.64; 6. Chloë Beaucarne (Bel) 13.93;… dnf—Sharona Bakker (Neth).
HJ: 1. Nicola McDermott (Aus) 6-3¼ (1.91); 2. Erika Kinsey (Swe) 6-2 (1.88); 3. Sofie Skoog (Swe) 6-2; 4. tie, Claire Orcel (Bel) & Ioánna Zákka (Gre) 6-½ (1.84); 6. Katarina Johnson-Thompson (GB) 6-½ (1.84).