If Mo Farah tries to stick with the lead group at the London Marathon, it could blow him apart

Mo Farah has a marathon-sized gap on his record. In his only attempt, in London four years ago, he finished eighth in two hours eight minutes 21 seconds - far from a disastrous debut, but nowhere close to the debuts of those two Ethiopian greats, Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele. Now, track career over, at the age of 35, Mo is back in London. With the marathon only days away, lets take a closer look. Bekele ran 2:05:04 on his own marathon debut in Paris in 2014. Gebrselassie led London on his 2002 debut until the 25th mile, and it took a world record from Khalid Khannouchi to beat him. Eliud Kipchoge, faster now than both of them, ran 2:05:30 in his own marathon bow, in Hamburg in 2013. There is a significant gap back to Farah, who also has a 10,000m best slower than both the Ethiopians. But there is much he learned on that warm April day in 2014, and much he is trying to improve. "I don't think Mo should be judged a failure if he doesn't win. I do think he should be judged a failure if he doesn't significantly improve his personal best. And I mean significantly," says Dave Bedford. Up against the brilliant Kipchoge, against Bekele, who has run 2:03, as well as 2017 London winner Daniel Wanjiru, Farah is competing in one of the most stacked fields in marathon history. In 2014 he could not stick with the lead group. If he tries to this year, at a possible world record pace, it could blow him apart. "It's a loaded race, so I need to make sure I don't make any mistakes, to save as much energy as I can, but to mix it with the other guys too, not to be afraid of them," he says. "He should keep them in sight," is Bedford's advice. "He shouldn't get too agitated with them at the start. If it were me, I'd have them within eyesight - maybe 60 or 70 meters at the most, concentrate on how he is feeling, get to halfway and then go for it."

posted Thursday April 19th
by Tom Fordyce BBC Sports