Callum Hawkins to race Sir Mo Farah over half marathon in London

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Sir Mo Farah and Callum Hawkins will go up against one another in The Big Half in London in March. The new half-marathon race is expected to serve as a warm-up for Farah’s bid to take on the Virgin London Marathon later in the spring. Meanwhile, for FPSG Scottish Athlete of the Year Callum Hawkins, it’ll come weeks ahead of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

The young marathon runner, fourth at the World Champs in London, has revealed that racing Mo Farah in the Great Edinburgh International XC back in January helped set him up for a stellar 2017 – even though he knows Farah was below-par that day at Holyrood Park.

The marathon runner, fourth at the World Champs in London, recently became the first male recipient of the FPSG Scottish Athlete of the Year title as he saw off the challenge of the likes of Laura Muir and Sammi Kinghorn.

‘I won a Euro Cross medal in Chia last December and then kicked on from there into Edinburgh,’ said the Kilbarchan AAC athlete, who nursed a hamstring injury through a 15K race in Holland on Sunday.

‘As it happened, I was a little bit fitter then than I had been two or three weeks prior to that at the Euro Cross, which was maybe a wee bit frustrating!
‘I took a lot of confidence from Holyrood Park. It wasn’t beating Mo Farah, because I don’t think he was really in shape at that time and it would be wrong to claim otherwise, but it was the performance and going so close to winning that day which added to my belief for 2017.

‘Then the two half marathons in Japan and New York set me up for the summer in London. Just before we flew from London to Tokyo, the news was breaking about the Great Scottish Run course being short and the record not standing. I had four or five days to dwell on that prior to having the chance to try and break it. Did I think about it all the way over to Japan? I wouldn’t say that but it was ‘fuel’ for the race out there, yes.

‘New York was probably a slightly better performance than the one in Japan – it was a tougher course and stronger competition. I look back now and think New York was easily a sub-60. And there was that 60.00 time in Japan up on the board when I crossed the line. That was a bit annoying.

‘I’ve come to terms with London a bit now. I have looked at the way I ran it, looked at the splits. And there isn’t much more I could have done on that day. ‘
Hawkins is the cover star for the last edition for 2017 of PB magazine, issued to 13,000 members of scottishathletics this week.

In a special interview, he also explained the vast majority of his training is done alone and why he now prefers to run without a watch when racing.
‘I think about 98 percent of my running is done on my own,’ said Callum.
‘I am comfortable that way and I think it has probably helped me in the marathon. If you have to push it on yourself then only you can do that. Boys at the club sometimes jump in on 400m reps at Linwood now and again and, yes, that helps – but most of my training runs are alone.

‘For the marathon, you have to be able to know you can push through the pain sometimes, regardless of what other people are doing.
‘I do train with the watch – although that is more to check the distance. When it comes the championship events, I prefer just going out to race. I run as I feel at the point in the race.

‘In London, the first 5K did seem slightly slow so I pushed it on from there. Once a championship race really gets going, mile times are irrelevant anyway.
‘Fortunately, both (brother) Derek and myself seem have a natural sense of how fast we are running – we know in ourselves what the pace needs to be at the time.’

Callum’s profile has risen significantly during 2017 but this 25-year-old isn’t counting his ‘followers’ on a daily basis. ‘It does not bother me too much – what my profile is publicly,’ he said. ‘To be honest, I like to keep myself to myself. I let my legs do the talking. I see the main thing as going out and performing in the race. That’s what I love doing. I am not too worried about the image or profile side of things.’

The Big Half takes place on Sunday 4 March, with four host boroughs being Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich.


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First published on: 21 November, 2017 12:00 am