Whisper it gently, but British men's 10,000m running is on something of a revivalist roll.
Running in the European Cup 10,000m race in Marseilles on Saturday night, Mo Farah proved a class apart, winning by 43sec in 27min 28.86sec. In doing so, the reigning European indoor 3,000m champion improved his lifetime best for the distance by 15sec and moved up from 16th to third on the UK all-time list, past such great performers as Brendan Foster, Dave Bedford and Steve Jones. Only Jon Brown (27:18.14) and Eamonn Martin (27:23.06) have run quicker over 25 laps.
It has installed Farah in top place in the European rankings, seven weeks out from the European Championships in Barcelona – ahead of his fellow Briton Chris Thompson, who emerged from frustrating years of injury problems last month to clock 27:29:61 at Palo Alto in California. All that bodes well for a possible piece of British athletics history in the Catalan capital: despite the glory days of the 1970s, no Briton has ever won the European men's 10,000m title.
Given his Marseilles morale-booster Farah will now possibly be planning a tilt at the 25-lap title in tandem with another shot at gold in the 5,000m, which he missed by a whisker in Gothenburg four years ago. Having also clocked a British 10,000m road best of 27min 44sec on home ground in London last Monday, the 27-year-old knows he is building on his trailblazing form from the 2009 indoor season under the guidance of his coach, Ricky Simms, the manager of Usain Bolt.
"My main aim in Marseilles was to get the qualifying time for the European Championships and I'm delighted to have done that," Farah reflected. "I feel like I have a lot more in the tank and can run much faster over the distance."