MO FARAH made history by becoming the first male runner to win three consecutive Great North Runs.
The four-time ‘double double’ Olympic champion added to his 2014 and 2015 victories, easing home to a comfortable win in the world-famous half marathon between Newcastle and South Shields.
Briton Farah, 33, finished in 60.04, ahead of American Dathan Ritzenhein who was six seconds behind, while Kenyan Emmanuel Bett was third in 61.22.
In the women’s race, Vivian Cheruiyot won on her half marathon debut, ahead of 2013 winner Priscah Jeptoo and 2012 winner Tirunesh Dibaba.
Cheruiyot, who celebrated her 33rd birthday on the same day as the Great North Run, pipped Jeptoo with a winning time of 67.54, with the Kenyan a second behind. Dibaba was further behind in 68.04.
Top Briton was Charlotte Purdue who was sixth in 72.13.
Both Great North Run winners were Olympic gold medallists in Rio this summer, Farah scooping the 10,000m and 5,000m, with Cheruiyot taking glory in the 5,000m.
While the final mile of Farah’s victory would suggest victory was never in doubt, Ritzenhein gave the best distance runner in the world a run for his money, exchanging the lead with the Briton in an enthralling contest.
But, as Kenenisa Bekele did in 2013 to Farah, Farah did to Ritzenhein in 2016 – by accelerating down Redwell Bank and away from the American, opening up an unassailable gap.
Farah said of his victory: “It was brilliant, amazing. Dathan made it so hard for me – he made it a great race, and Emmanuel as well. I just had to hang on for my dear life. It was tough, but it was amazing to have so many people cheering for me. That’s what drove me to the line.
“He had me worried at one point. With three miles to go, I was thinking, ‘Will I have to let him go?’ But then I was saying, ‘Hang in there, hang in there’. I managed to hold on, and it was the downhill section that was crucial.
“I remember when I raced against Bekele and Gebreselassie, Bekele went so hard on that downhill part. He opened up a gap, and I wasn’t able to close it. I decided to do that to Dathan, so I just went as hard as I could. I wanted to make a little gap, and then try to hold it.
“Knowing the course inside out helped a lot. I knew which bits were going to be tough, and which I was going to work hard on. It helped me out massively.”
Cheruiyot marked her 33rd birthday in some style with a classy debut over the half marathon, holding off the challenge of Jeptoo who nibbled away at her Kenyan counterpart.
It provided good preparation for an athlete who sees her immediate future on the road, with her track swansong to follow at the 2017 World Championships in London.
And she said: “When I was on the start line, I wondered whether I was going to finish. I was a little bit scared. You never know what is going to happen, but generally it was so good. It was good to run against Priscah and Tirunesh. I’m so happy because I’ve done my best, it’s my debut and I’ve won on my birthday.
“I’m going to take a break for two or three weeks and I’ll see what happens next.”
In the men’s wheelchair race, it was a British 1-2-3, with Mark Telford winning in 49.03, just in front of Bret Crossley in 49.03 and Callum Hall in 50.42.