The focus of the British press before, during and after last Sunday’s 33rd Virgin London Marathon was on local Olympic champion Mo Farah’s half-way-only test run for next year’s full distance debut. Even Tsegay Kebede’s final kilometer win over a faltering Emmanuel Mutai was couched in the context Farah ’s first half presence.
Was this what race officials hoped when they signed Farah after recruiting “the greatest marathon field in history”? Or was it simply an indication that today’s version of such a field is incapable of holding public attention on its own?
Whichever, when a local show pony like Mo Farah who had no intention of completing the race dominates race news coverage, which he did, it’s a clear indication that running has a problem that fast times alone cannot solve. What London 2013 revealed was the continuing lack of connection between an audience and the current crop of the world’s top distance runners. And one wonders whether the sport either notices or cares.