DOUBLE Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah was left disappointed yesterday after his London Marathon debut did not prove as successful as he and his legions of fans had hoped.
Farah – who won 5,000m and 10,000m gold at the 2012 Olympics and last year’s World Championships – finished eighth, just under four minutes behind Kenyan world record holder Wilson Kipsang, who took the title for the second time, despite arriving in London late because his passport had been stolen.
Around 30,000 people took part in the 34th London Marathon, including shadow chancellor Ed Balls and comedian Jimmy Carr – as well as the usual line-up of bizarrely dressed fun runners.
Scottish rowing star Catherine Grainger, who won Olympic gold in the double sculls rowing at the 2012 Olympics, started the event with her boat partner Anna Watkins.
“That was tough. I’m very disappointed,” said a downcast Farah, who had been among the bookmakers’ favourites to win the race. “I didn’t really know what to expect. Training went well. The crowds were exciting and really helped me along.”
Farah, who was visibly disappointed as fans cheered him on to the finish line, added: “I’m not going to finish on a down. I wanted to give it a try. London is my city – this is where I grew up. It would have been wrong for me to do any other marathon.”
A breeze-free, sunny day in London meant athletes struggled to cope with the heat. Farah missed a drink stop shortly after the halfway mark, at that point running on his own rather than in a group, leaving him struggling to be a serious contender in the top flight for the rest of the race. More than 1,200 volunteers from St John Ambulance lined the 26.2 mile route as the temperature rose to 16C during the event.
Other celebrities taking part included former Liverpool and England striker Michael Owen, Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer and Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr.
BBC athletics commentator Brendan Foster came under fire from supporters of Farah after he claimed the athlete should “stay on the track”. Former long-distance runner Foster suggested Farah was not strong enough to compete with seasoned marathon runners like Kipsang, claiming he should focus on shorter distances.
He said: “I hope Mo stays on the track, runs the shorter distances and defends his title in Rio. I just think this is too much of an unknown territory.”
David Stone from Devon set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon dressed as a television character in a time of 2:49:51 after he tackled the course dressed as a Thunderbirds character.
Meanwhile, Kenyan Edna Kiplagat won her first London title in the women’s race after finishing runner-up in the past two years, while Switzerland’s Marcel Hug won by just one second in a sprint for the line in the wheelchair race. American Tatyana McFadden successfully defended her women’s wheelchair crown, claiming a dominant victory just a month after winning a cross-country skiing silver medal at the Winter Paralympics.