Britain’s Mo Farah returned to the track in style on Friday after three years away when he broke the world record for the one-hour run while Safan Hassan smashed the women’s equivalent by more than a lap at the Brussels Diamond League meeting.
Multiple Olympic and world champion Farah, 37, ran 21,330 metres — just over 53 laps — to beat Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie’s mark, set in Ostrava 13 years ago, by 45 metres to claim the first world record outdoors of a remarkable career.
Farah was locked in a duel with Belgium’s Bashir Abdi for most of the race but powered away during the final minute and was so full of running that he did not realise the race had ended and kept on for at least another 20 seconds.
“I’m very happy… we worked together, what an amazing way to do it and show the people what is possible,” said Farah.
“I feel tired — in the middle part we had to work hard, it’s nice to break a world record.”
Farah retired from the track in August 2017 to concentrate on road running but hopes to compete in the 10,000 metres at next year’s rescheduled Tokyo Olympics.
The rarely-run one-hour race took place without spectators due to novel coronavirus restrictions although there was simulated crowd noise in the stadium to help the runners.
The runners were also helped by a pace-guidance system consisting of different coloured LED lights displayed on the inside edge of the track.
Competing for the first time since October’s Chicago Marathon, Farah and Abdi were off the pace until the final quarter of the race.
Farah is the 12th man to hold the record in the rarely-run one-hour event.
Dutchwoman Hassan, who won gold in the 1500 and 10,000 metres at the world championships last year, ran 413 metres further than the previous record of 18,517 set by Ethiopian Dire Tune in 2008.
The 27-year-old Ethiopian-born Hassan took control early on and surged away from Kenya’s world marathon record-holder Brigid Kosgei, who was subsequently disqualified for leaving the track.
“An hour is long; it takes a lot of concentration and focus,” Hassan said. “After the first half I found my rhythm. I’m really happy with this record”.