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How Mo Farah beat Moorcroft's British 5,000m record

Farah delight at GB 5000m record

Farah delight at GB 5,000m record

Mark Butler
By Mark Butler
BBC Sport's athletics statistician

I'm sure many people think statisticians are mad or sad because of the way we try to record every detail of an athletic performance, but every now and again our assiduousness pays off.

This was the case when as I watched Mohamed Farah lower the British 5,000m record to 12 minutes 57.94 seconds at the Zurich Diamond League meeting last Thursday.

Fifty-six years after Chris Chataway became the first Briton to break 14 minutes for 5,000m, we finally have a man under 13 minutes

When David Moorcroft set the previous record of 13:00.41 in Oslo 28 years ago, it was a smashing new world record.

Thankfully someone kept a record of his time on each of the 12.5 laps and it is that schedule which I have brought out whenever Farah has made an attempt at the record, which was set a year before he was born.

As the race unfolded, I was able to track exactly how the double European champion was faring against the ghost of Moorcroft.

Zurich 2010 was a completely different race to Oslo 1982. Then, Moorcroft was by himself from 800m onwards. In Switzerland Farah lurked at the back of a huge pack made up mainly of Kenyans and Ethiopians, working his way through up to fifth place.

David Moorcroft
Moorcroft's 28-year-old record fell to Farah

The Zurich pacemakers did not go as quickly as their target schedule for sub-12:50, but from the outset Farah was ahead of Moorcroft's pace and this was noted by the brilliant announcers at the Letzigrund Stadium who realised that one of the most revered of national records was under serious threat.

By 3,000m, Farah was almost three seconds quicker than Moorcroft had been in 1982 and as he looked to be moving through the field, a new record seemed certain.

At 4,000m the advantage had grown to 3.8 seconds, and with Mo running strongly we started to be confident of a new record in the 12:50. But then the stopwatch revealed a bad patch as the pace took its toll.

Mo's next 600m was covered in a painful 1:36.5 compared with Moorcroft's 1:33.5. Farah was only a few strides up on the Moorcroft timeline by the time the bell rang for the last lap.

In winning double European gold in Barcelona last month, Mo showed he could outrace the opposition. Now he showed he could defeat the clock because after three successive laps slower than his 1980s counterpart, his last 200m was 1.5 seconds faster and a new record was assured.

We should not forget that Moorcroft's was essentially a solo run, whereas Farah had the advantage of closely-matched opposition all around him.

Also, Moorcroft's time was a world record by more than five seconds, while Farah's was merely the 177th fastest of all-time.

But I feel we should cheer this, the first British men's track record in more than a decade and at a time of the year when the protagonist had achieved his peak for the season.

Fifty-six years after Chris Chataway became the first Briton to break 14 minutes for 5,000m, we finally have a man under 13 minutes.

With possible Commonwealth Games and/or European Cross Country Championship glory still to come this year for Mo, could he further emulate Chataway and make a big impression on the voters for Sports Personality of the Year?

Mo Farah's record pace compared to David Moorcroft's former world record


Lap by lap:

Lap to:
400m
800m
1,200m
1,600m
2,000m
2,400m
2,800m
3,200m
3,600m
4,000m
4,400m
4,800m
5,000m
4,600m (bell)
Last lap
Moorcroft 1982
61.4 seconds
65.8 (2:07.2)
61.3 (3:08.5)
62.6 (4:11.1)
61.5 (5:12.6)
62.4 (6:15.0)
63.5 (7:18.5)
62.9 (8:21.4)
64.0 (9:25.4)
63.3 (10:28.7)
62.3 (11:31.0)
60.3 (12:31.3)
29.1 last 200m
12:02.1
58.4
Farah 2010
61.0 seconds
62.7 (2:03.7)
62.8 (3:06.5)
62.7 (4:09.2)
61.7 (5:10.9)
61.6 (6:12.5)
63.3 (7:15.8)
62.7 (8:18.5)
62.4 (9:20.9)
64.0 (10:24.9)
65.1 (11:30.0)
60.4 (12:30.4)
27.6 last 200m
12:01.4
56.6

Kilometre by kilometre:

Kilometre to:
1,000m
2,000m
3,000m
4,000m
5,000m
Moorcroft
2:38.0
2:34.6 (5:12.6)
2:37.6 (7:50.2)
2:38.5 (10:28.7)
2:31.8 (13:00.5)
Farah
2:34.8
2:36.3 (5:10.9)
2:36.4 (7:47.3)
2:37.2 (10:24.9)
2:33.1 (12:58.0)

Progressive British records at 5,000m:

Time:
15:29.2
15:01.2
15:00.4
14:54.8
14:48.2
14:42.0
14:31.6
14:08.6
14:02.6
13:51.6
13:36.8
13:33.0
13:29.0
13:22.8
13:22.2
13:17.21
13:14.6
13:00.41
12:57.94
Athlete:
Charles Bennett
Arthur Robertson
Herbert Johnston
Tom Evenson
Peter Ward
Peter Ward
Peter Ward
Sydney Wooderson
Gordon Pirie
Chris Chataway
Gordon Pirie
Mike Wiggs
Dick Taylor
Ian Stewart
David Bedford
David Bedford
Brendan Foster
David Moorcroft
Mohamed Farah
Date:
22 Jul 1900
13 Sep 1908
25 Jul 1926
30 Aug 1931
24 Jul 1937
22 Aug 1937
4 Sep 1937
23 Aug 1946
29 Aug 1953
13 Oct 1954
19 Jun 1956
30 Jun 1965
3 Aug 1969
25 Jul 1970
12 Jun 1971
14 Jun 1972
29 Jan 1974
7 Jul 1982
18 Aug 2010


see also
Farah named in Commonwealths team
23 Aug 10 |  Athletics
Farah sets British 5,000m record
20 Aug 10 |  Athletics
Highlights - Farah storms to Euro gold
27 Jul 10 |  Athletics


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