Mo Farah can succeed in the marathon - Paula Radcliffe

Three-time London marathon winner Paula Radcliffe has backed double Olympic champion Mo Farah to repeat his middle-distance success over 26.2 miles.

Farah, who won 5,000m and 10,000m gold medals last summer, plans to run half of this year's London Marathon before running the full distance in 2014.

"Mo's done it all on the track now and it's time to move on," said Radcliffe.


"If it didn't work he wouldn't be the first big name who hasn't been able to step up but there are plenty who have and Mo does most of the training now that he would have to for the marathon.

"It's the race that's different not the training and its about how your body and your mind copes with racing for two hours instead of for 30 minutes or less.

"I don't think any of us, including Mo can fully predict what will happen, but I'm looking forward to watching because on paper he has everything you would need to run a great marathon."

"I've seen him attack the long runs out [training] in Kenya and he has all of the ingredients [for success]."

Radcliffe, who herself claimed 5,000 Commonwealth and 10,000m World Championship medals before stepping up to the marathon, admits she was "a little bit shocked" to hear Farah would only run half of the London course in April.

However, the five-time Olympian feels he will benefit from the experience.

"I'd rather race a half marathon or commit to do the full distance when you're ready, but in a way it does make sense [what Farah is choosing to do] because the marathon is very different to competing at a major [track] championships," said Radcliffe.

"Your press conferences start a week out, you have different routines - on race day, what do you eat because it's so early?

"You need to work out how best to sleep the night before, when do the buses leave for the start line and all of that, but he will get the chance to run through that and it will help him for 2014."

Farah and his 'Mobot' celebration have attained public adulation since the Somalia-born runner won double gold last summer.

While he has revelled in the spotlight, Radcliffe believes the move to the marathon could help alleviate some of the hype and pressure success has brought.

Middle distance to marathon

  • Emile Zatopek - the Czech legend is the only man to succeed in winning a trio of 5,000m, 10,000m and marathon Olympic titles. His triple success came in just eight days at the Helsinki Games in 1952.
  • Degago "Mamo" Wolde - the Ethiopian started life as an 800m and 1500m runner but worked his way up to the marathon. At the 1968 Olympics he won 10,000m silver and then marathon gold in Mexico City.
  • Lasse Viren - the Finn won both the 5,000m and 10,000m titles at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics. Less than 24 hours after the 5,000m final, Viren competed in the 1976 Olympic marathon, finishing fifth.
  • Paula Radcliffe - the women's marathon world record holder started out as a 5,000m and 10,000m specialist before moving up to the marathon. She won the 2002 London Marathon.
  • Haile Gebrselassie - the dominant Ethiopian track athlete has two Olympic and four World 10,000m titles in his collection but it was only after retiring from the track he moved up to marathons - winning the Berlin Marathon four time.

"It's not so much that he needs the new challenge but maybe a new event to go at," stated Radcliffe.

"There's stress and expectation on him every time he races over 5k, 10k and to some extent even the half-marathon, but that won't be there in the marathon so it's a bit of fun and will put that enjoyment back into it.

Radcliffe was 28 when she made the switch, a year younger than Farah is now, and she feels the timing is right for him.

"You have to do it when the passion is highest in your heart," she added.

"You can try other events because people say you might have the talent, but you can't be pushed into the marathon. You have to be ready in your own mind to want to do it."

Farah's major target for 2013 is to repeat his Olympic double-distance success at the World Championships in Moscow.

His preparations for that task include running the New Orleans half-marathon at the end of February and half of the London Marathon in April, so Farah will only step up to full distance training after the Worlds in August.