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Sir Mo Farah: 'I hope my story inspires BAME people'

WINNER: Mo Farah will defend his title at this year’s event

FOUR-TIME Olympic gold medallist and six-time World Championship winner, Sir Mo Farah, will return to the streets of London to defend his title at The Vitality Big Half (TVBH) on Sunday, March 10.

The Vitality Big Half is a new world-class mass participation event, organised by London Marathon Events, which features a half marathon (13.1 miles) and other events held on closed roads in London.

This unique event demonstrates how sport and community can get together to inspire social change, create social cohesion and improve health and wellbeing.

The 35-year-old Londoner won the first ever The Vitality Big Half in 2018, crossing the line in 61 minutes 40 seconds to beat Kenya’s Daniel Wanjiru, who finished just three seconds later.

Farah, Britain’s most decorated track and field athlete, became the fastest marathon runner in British history with a third-place finish at the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon.


The Big Half festival saw more than 11,000 runners take to London’s streets in 2018

In October, Farah recorded his first marathon victory, winning the Bank of America Chicago Marathon with a new European record of 2:05:11 and Farah will be back in the capital for the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon on April 28.

First, there is the matter of securing a second victory at The Vitality Big Half in March.

Farah is the first athlete to be announced for the 2019 The Vitality Big Half elite men’s race. Launched in 2018, The Vitality Big Half saw more than 11,000 runners take part.

ICONIC

The iconic half marathon race starts near Tower Bridge and finishes at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, and is a community running festival for everyone, no matter your age, background or running ability.

The Voice of Sport caught up with the running icon who talks about preparing for the big day…

The Voice of Sport: With such a disproportionate representation of ethnic minorities in races (either taking part or spectating), what more can be done to encourage more runners from the BAME community?

Mo Farah: Running has come a long way since I started, and now there are more people from minority backgrounds getting involved, but there’s still more to do. I hope my story inspires more people from BAME communities to take up running.

The way London Marathon Events is working with organisations like Sported, to reach out to more African Caribbean community groups in London and encourage them to get into running and take part in The Vitality Big Half, is really important. Hopefully this will get more runners from different backgrounds taking part. Most of the time all it needs is for someone to see their friends taking part and then they want to get involved. Running is such a great sport, and it’s great for your physical and mental health. I encourage everyone to give it a go.


FIRST OVER THE LINE: Above, Mo Farah won the event when it first launched last year

TVOS: Let’s talk about nutrition and preparing for a race. Are there any foods you recommend our readers stay away from?

MF: As a general rule, I would try to have a balanced diet.

If you are doing a lot of running or preparing for a race, you will also need to have foods that provide you with energy, like rice, porridge, pasta, potatoes, bread and bananas, which are high in carbohydrates and low in fat. It is also important to ensure you keep yourself hydrated.

That’s not to say you can’t treat yourself every now and again – sweets are my biggest weakness!

TVOS: Many people find it difficult to strike the right balance between running/training and family/work life. How do you handle this and what would you recommend for our readers?

MF: As an elite athlete, I need to spend a lot of time away from my family, training at altitude for months at a time. So when I am at home, I make sure I spend lots of quality time with my family – that’s really important to me.

It’s difficult, but that’s the sacrifice I have to make to compete at this top level, and I’m fortunate to have such a supportive family.

It’s down to the individual to decide what works for them.

Remember, running is something that the whole family can do together, whether it’s a run at your local park or signing up for events like The Vitality Big Half.

Vitality: bringing the community together

UP TO 15,000 people are expected to participate in this year’s events on March 10 including:

• The Vitality Big Half: London’s community half marathon starts at 9am by Tower Bridge and finishes at the Cutty Sark, passing through the boroughs of Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham and Greenwich.

• The Little Half: A 2.4-mile run which finishes at the Cutty Sark and offers the perfect opportunity to take part in your first official times event.

• The Vitality Big Mile: A free, fun, family-friendly mass participation event taking place around Greenwich Park. This is the perfect event for first-time runners or walkers, families with children of all ages and anyone looking to get more healthy and active.

• The Vitality Big Festival: Celebrate all that London has to offer at The Vitality Big Festival in Greenwich Park. Join friends and family at this free festival and enjoy some of London’s best food, music, sport and entertainment. Visit thebighalf.co.uk for more.

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