Mo Farah eager to emulate the great flying Finn Lasse Viren

Mo Farah will return to London next year to make his marathon debut proper but beyond that it is the extraordinary exploits of the flying Finn Lasse Viren, the greatest distance runner in Olympic history, that offer a clue to the possible long-term ambition of the Briton.

Viren did the double distance double, winning the 5,000 metres and 10,000m at both the Munich and Montreal Olympics, and in the latter went out 24 hours after taking gold in the 5,000m to compete in the marathon as well. Farah, 30, intends to compete at the Rio Games but has yet to decide in which events.

There have been suggestions that if his marathon debut in London goes well that will be the distance he concentrates on, while matching up the 5,000m and the marathon is another possible avenue. But yesterday, as he discussed his first experience of the London Marathon – of which he ran half on Sunday – before flying back to his adopted home in Portland, Oregon today, Farah brought up Viren.

"It would be nice to do like Lasse Viren; he did track and from there went to a marathon – that's a challenge," he said. It will remain only a possibility until Farah crosses the marathon finish line next year – a disastrous run might end the experiment there and then, but if all goes to plan it raises the intriguing prospect of Farah taking on the treble.

To attempt such a feat would also need the luck of the draw, although whatever schedule the organisers come up with it will remain a daunting challenge. By the time Viren lined up for the start of what was his first-ever marathon in Montreal in 1976, he had already run 30,000m in the space of a week. The competitiveness of the marathon field today makes it an even tougher task and the realities of preparing adequately for three events may yet limit Farah's ambition.

First comes his attempt to double up at the World Championships in Moscow in August before focus returns to the marathon – a distance Farah is clearly fascinated by.

"I'm now the champion and the hunted," said Farah of what awaits in Russia. "The worlds will be as hard – but not harder [than London] – because I'm a marked man now and everyone will know my tactics."

He believes, though, that he is in a good place at the moment and looked fresh and fit in keeping up with a frantic pace during the first half of Sunday's race. "I'm in probably slightly better shape than I was last year," he said.

Farah will take a short break after the worlds before beginning his marathon preparations in earnest. The first target next spring will be the British record of 2hr 7min 13sec, which has stood for 28 years since Steve Jones – the last Briton to win the London event – recorded that mark in Chicago.

"I'd like get close to the British record," said Farah after being given a special half-medal from the race organisers following his 13 miles on Sunday. "My training partner [Galen Rupp] has run 2:07 and he is doing similar things to what I'm doing.

"If you've won medals on the track, what's next? It would be great to be able to run the distances and then win medals in the marathon – work your way through."

Lasse faire: Flying Finn's exploits

Lasse Viren

The enigmatic Finnish policeman who liked to train in the woods – "the tranquillity of nature creates mental strength" – became the fourth man to win the Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m double in 1972 and repeated the feat in 1976, as well as coming fifth in the marathon. Competed in 1980 but finished outside the medals – some blamed over-training for the marathon as the reason for his failure.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Langley James : Desktop Support Analyst; 1st Line; Moorgate up to £23k

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Langley James : Desktop Support Analyst; 1st Line; ...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Sales Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This fragrance store are looking for enthusias...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting and rewarding role ...

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Executive - UK / International

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a long-established, renown...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible