(Reuters) – Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah will begin his Tokyo Games preparations by going head-to-head with Kenenisa Bekele at the Big Half race in March, organizers said on Wednesday.
Farah, who has won the previous two editions of the half marathon event in London, faces a tough battle to keep his streak intact against Ethiopian Bekele — the second-fastest marathon runner of all-time.
After competing as a marathon runner for the last two years, Farah has decided to return to the track in a bid to complete an Olympic hat-trick in the 10,000m race in Tokyo.
He has not featured on the track since the 2017 world championships, but confirmed he will begin his season by continuing on the road at the Big Half on March 1.
“I am really looking forward to coming back to the Big Half and kicking off my 2020 season,” said Farah.
“Everyone knows how much I enjoy racing in London. It’s my home city and it always gives me a buzz to come back and race here.”
Bekele, the world record holder for both 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, produced a stunning 2:01:41 run in Berlin last September but missed the marathon world record by two seconds.
The 37-year-old believes the Big Half gives him an opportunity to compete against a strong field before he takes on world record holder Eliud Kipchoge at April’s London Marathon.
“This will be my first time racing at the Big Half and it will be a good test for me as I prepare for the London Marathon,” Bekele added.
Farah and Bekele will lead the field that also includes Kenyan Marius Kipserem, who set a new course record to win the Rotterdam Marathon last year.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)