Mo Farah completed the double in Moscow that he missed in Daegu two years ago, producing an 800m-like final 600m to hold off a host of challengers in the 5000m on Friday night.
When they look up the results – even in a few weeks' time, much less a few years – this will look like a fairly mundane race, albeit a close one.
Farah won in 13:26.98, adding the 5000m gold medal to the 10,000m he won on the opening night of the championships last Saturday. Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia, who only turned 19 in May, stormed past Isiah Koech and Thomas Longosiwa in the final metres to grab the silver medal in 13:27.26.
Koech took the bronze in the same time with Longosiwa a couple of metres back in fourth. Edwin Soi, who beat Farah in Eugene earlier in the year, was next, then the veteran Bernard Lagat. Galen Rupp and Yenew Alamirew, tipped as the biggest threat to Mo with his closing speed, were further back.
They were all there. They all could have won. Farah did.
And he did it with a combination of bluff, bluster, speed and, of course, wonderful talent. Again, you wouldn’t know it from looking at the times, but a fair bit happened in this race. A surging start, some cat-and-mouse in the middle and a long run for home which saw the last 2000m ran in 4:58.69, the last 1000m in 2:22.28 and the last 600m in 1:22.28, which is about what a 1:46-47 800m would finish like.
Given Farah ran 3:28.81 for 1500m in Monaco last month, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by that.
From the start, Farah, Lagat, Rupp and Alamirew – four men who would not be doing their hardest work until late in the race – went to the front. Unsurprisingly, the first 400m was a jog-pace 1:11.48. Koech and Longosiwa injected the first of the pace changes and the second lap sped up to 61.48.
Having shaken things up, the Kenyans let the pace drop again. The second 1000m was the slowest of the race at 2:52.99.
One of the difficulties of racing against Mo Farah at the moment is the way he is everywhere, and nowhere, in the pack. As his opponents played games with the pace, he in turn played games with them. When they sped up, he dropped back, when they slowed, he was up front, sometimes anticipating, and therefore thwarting, the next surge.
From 3000m, reached at a 10,000m tempo in 8:27.29, the race began anew. Koech dashed to the front, went 10 metres clear, and then was joined by Longosiwa and Muktar Edris. The next two laps were in the 62 second range.
With three to go, the kicker Farah moved into the lead with Alamirew, but the pack would not let them get away even though the pace sped up to a 64.29 then 60.35.
Half-way down the back straight, Farah went for good with 650 metres to run. The chase was instant, but the only question now was whether he could sustain his sprint to the line.
As they approached the bell in 12:33.47, some wag suggested “World record”, jokingly referring to Kenenisa Bekele’s 12:37.35. “Oh no, lap to go,” he added.
By now, though, Farah was moving at a speed even Bekele would have trouble matching. The others clung to him, but none had the strength to step out of the slipstream and pass him. Even 70 metres out, it was obvious the double was his, only the (narrow) final margin remained to be determined. Gebrhiwet closed best, but no-one threatened, even if Mo could still feel their breath on his back.
As Steve Cram pointed out earlier in the day, championship opportunities come round much more frequently these days. But even sticking to the modern era only, Farah has now completed an Olympic-World Championships double double that only Bekele (Beijing 2008 and Berlin 2009) has accomplished.
That’s some company to be keeping, but Mo Farah clearly belongs there.
Len Johnson for the IAAF