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Mo Farah and Vivian Cheruiyot ready to defend Great North Run titles

Mo Farah and Vivian Cheruiyot ready to defend Great North Run titles

A look ahead to the action at the world’s biggest half-marathon

Mo Farah and Vivian Cheruiyot return to defend their titles at the Simplyhealth Great North Run on Sunday but are set to face some tough opposition at the world’s biggest half-marathon.

The 10-time global track champion Farah has now switched his attention to road racing and is aiming for an unprecedented fourth consecutive win on the Newcastle to South Shields course, while Olympic 5000m champion Cheruiyot will be looking to repeat her success of last year.

Farah has competed in every Great North Run since 2013, finishing second on his debut and winning in 2014, 2015 and 2016, when he held off the challenge of American Dathan Ritzenhein to become the first male runner to win three consecutive editions of the event.

Ritzenhein also returns this year and after some solid training he hopes to go one better this time.

“I’ve been training reasonably well, the field is quite loaded on Sunday so it’s going to be hard. I’m just out to enjoy it,” said Farah.

“I’m looking forward to it, it should be quite exciting. It’s the end of the season and I like to end it in Newcastle.”

Joining them on the start line will be Ethiopia’s Olympic marathon silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa, who is making his debut at the event as he works towards the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 8.

Lilesa has a half-marathon PB of 59:22 run in 2012, while he won the United Airlines NYC Half earlier this year as he out-sprinted Britain’s Callum Hawkins, 60:04 to 60:08. Farah’s best for 13.1 miles also stands at 59:22 from the 2015 edition of the Great North Run.

Entries also include the evergreen Bernard Lagat of USA, New Zealand twins Zane and Jake Robertson and Japanese duo Hiroyuki Yamamoto and Daichi Kamino, plus Britons Chris Thompson, Dewi Griffiths and Tsegai Tewelde.

Joining Cheruiyot in the women’s field are her fellow Kenyans Mary Keitany, the all-women’s marathon world record-holder and two-time Great North Run winner, plus Great Scottish Run winner Betsy Saina and Great Birmingham 10k winner Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui.

Keitany had been said to be eyeing a time of under 65 minutes but speaking ahead of the race the 35-year-old preferred not to state a target time and said a lot would depend on the weather conditions.

World and Olympic marathoner Alyson Dixon, fresh from racing on the global stage in London, has said a PB might be possible, and she will be joined by her fellow Britons Gemma Steel, Lily Partridge and Katrina Wootton.

Canadians Josh Cassidy and Brent Lakatos plus Britain’s Simon Lawson are among those racing the men’s wheelchair event, while the women’s field includes Britain’s Sammi Kinghorn as she works towards making her marathon debut in Chicago.

» The Simplyhealth Great North Run will be broadcast live on BBC One on Sunday September 10 from 9.30am-1.30pm, with highlights on BBC Two at 6pm

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