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March 13, 2014
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
March 13, 2014
Telephonic Interview With:
CHRIS WEILLER:¬† Hello, everybody.¬† This is Chris Weiller in New York with New York Road Runners.¬† Wanted to welcome everyone and thank you all for joining the call from the UK.¬† We appreciate your coverage of the New York City Half.¬† Though we wish you were here with us in person, we're happy you're on the phone with us today.
Also a big thanks to World and Olympic Champion Mo Farah for providing us with the opportunity to get on the phone.
We'll get to Mo in a few minutes.¬† Just wanted to run down how the call will proceed this morning or the afternoon in the UK.¬† After I run through a few details, Mary Wittenberg, the president and CEO of New York Road Runners, will open things up and we'll go to Mo.
We're on a bit of a tight time line with Mo today.¬† After this call, we'll be visiting with a public school in the New York City school system, where Mo will speak with and work out with a group of fourth graders who take part in the NYRR's mighty milers program.¬† It's a school based program that NYRR operates throughout the New York City public school system as well as throughout the U.S.¬† there are 200,000 people who take part in our youth and community‑based programs where we work to inspire people of all ages to run for life.
The group of young running students that Mo's going to visit with will also be on hand at Sunday's race.¬† They'll be in a cheer zone at the finish line, hoping to cheer Mo in.¬† Will definitely be cheering Mo in.¬† If there's any requests for photos on that afternoon visit, we're happy to help you out with that.¬† We could circle back at the end of the call.
The New York City Half, which is run in New York City's borough of Manhattan, is in its ninth year, and it's the first race of NYRR's year long five borough race series.¬† We also race in Brooklyn, queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx.¬† That makes up the five boroughs of the city.
We've increased our field this year for the New York City half from 15,000 last year to an expected 20,000 finishers in 2014.¬† We've also introduced for the first time a professional wheelchair race this year.
The course begins in Central Park, runs up to Harlem, then heads back through the park downtown to Times Square along the Hudson river on Manhattan's west side and finishes in lower Manhattan, just a few blocks from Wall Street.
The race will be televised locally in New York and digitally throughout the U.S., and for the first time, will be available outside the U.S. on a variety of platforms, and specifically across Eurosport's multi‑platform offerings, which airs in 74 different countries and 21 different languages.¬† The program will air live on Eurosport player on Sunday, March 16th, beginning at 7:00 a.m. New York time.¬† That's 12:00 noon central European time.¬† And delayed broadcast of the half will air on Euro sport at 1:00 p.m. Central European Time on March 17th with repeat coverage airing on Eurosport 2.¬† The exact time of that is TBD.
Also in the UK, the half will be broadcast live on BBC red button, BBC's interactive channel, available in 20 million homes, covering 80 percent of the UK.
Again, race coverage begins at 7:00 a.m. New York time.¬† We'll pass along that information again after the call via e‑mail.
We have a great field set for Sunday.¬† Highlighted by Mo and Geoffrey Mutai, the reigning New York City champion.¬† Lots of details on the half can be found on the New York City half online media center, which is located at a very long address name, NYRR.org/newsroom/2014‑NYC‑half.
That takes care of the business portion of the call.¬† We'll get right to you it.¬† Let's start with the president and CEO of the New York Road Runners, Mary Wittenberg.
MARY WITTENBERG:¬† Thanks so much, Chris.¬† Hi, everybody.¬† Our friends in the UK media, it's really great to host all of you.¬† As Chris said, we'd love to have you here in person, but I want you to know that your importance to us is a big reason why we decided to put a world feed on this New York City Half for the first time to ensure that we could have some Eurosport coverage of Mo and the rest of the field for the UK and other parts of the world, where I think Mo is equally‑‑ maybe‑‑ almost as popular as he is in the UK and certainly here in the United States.
I'd just begin by sharing that here in New York City our thoughts and attention the last two days have been with our friends in Harlem, whereas you know, there was an explosion that has sadly resulted in some deaths.¬† The explosion is just about seven blocks off one portion of the course.¬† New York Road Runners do a lot of running in Harlem, and our youth programs and the marathon, key miles‑‑ some of the final miles of the marathon are in Harlem.¬† We have a 5K up there every August, part of Harlem week.
So once again, we'll run this race with some added meaning and thinking of our neighbors in Harlem and those that were lost or hurt.
We are so looking forward to Sunday as a celebration of all the best of running.¬† We always seek to have the best in the world here, and we welcome Mo as, I think, the most popular distance runner on the planet right now.
You know, we talk a lot about different athletes when they're younger and their legacy potential and who can be the next Haile and Paula, and Mo has already cemented his legacy.¬† I don't think any athlete has performed under the pressure he's performed under when you think about those London games and winning those gold medals in that stadium that was‑‑ I think Jeff, the announcer, said, well, his fame is going to take off in orbit at that moment with those medals and then following with the World Championship medals.
As Mo comes here and looks forward to his debut marathon, I think he does so as arguably the most accomplished distance runner we've seen.¬† Step two, the marathon, right there with Haile.¬† And he comes to New York following in the footsteps of Paula, who we consider one of our own, and such a personal favorite among so many New Yorkers.
So Mo comes here after 2011 New York City Half just that much better known around the world and is much loved by us here, and we're just happy to share Mo with the city.
And as an athlete who grew up in the London Marathon youth programs, it's especially exciting for us to have Mo here and able to introduce him to some of the kids in our youth programs.¬† If we get lucky, they'll aspire to be following in Mo's footsteps someday.¬† At a minimum, hopefully, getting out and getting healthier and fitter as a result of being excited, meeting Mo, and seeing him run, and with the support of our youth programs.
So just really excited.¬† Applaud Mo.¬† This is a tough field.¬† Geoffrey Mutai has run incredibly well in New York.¬† As you know, he won our marathon twice, recently last year, and he's run the fastest time ever, a time many thought unthinkable on our course.¬† I didn't think it unthinkable, but some did.¬† So that's quite a head to head.
As you know, there are several others in the field, Stephen Sambu and Meb Keflezighi and others looking to shake it up.¬† So never one to run from a challenge, just another reason we applaud Mo.
So we're excited.¬† Let's get to the star of the show and welcome Mo.
CHRIS WEILLER:¬† Thanks, Mary.¬† Let's get right to the one of the world's greatest athletes, the Olympic and World Champion, Mo Farah.
Mo, could you make some comments on the race to get us started.¬† When you finish your opening comments, I'll start to ask questions of our media on the other end of the line.
MO FARAH:¬† Hi, guys.¬† How are you doing?¬† Back in New York again, which is great.¬† I enjoy coming here.¬† Mainly, I've been in Kenya training for the last few months.¬† Training has gone pretty well.¬† I'm excited to be here to test myself and see where I am.¬† At the same time, using this race to see where you are, test yourself, make sure every box is ticked.
It's one thing training has gone well, but I'm looking for a good race.¬† I enjoy it here.¬† I've run this race before in 2011.¬† It brought good memories, but at the same time, I want to come back here from London and test myself and see where I am in terms of the field.¬† Pretty strong field with the guys in it.
Q.¬† Hi, Mo.¬† Thank you very much.¬† We're really excited to see you.¬† It's a great chance.¬† We found out, obviously, the course has been changed so that it is sort of record reachable.¬† Have you got, obviously, your own British record in your sights?
MO FARAH:¬† I'm not really thinking about time.¬† I've been pretty confident in training.¬† This is more about testing myself to see where I am.
In terms of the race, I think it's more trying to do well in the race rather than focus on the time.¬† If it comes fast, then it's a bonus.¬† But I'm not really thinking about any time.¬† I just want to be able to do well in the race.
Q.¬† Yeah, just in terms of Mo being asked about the time, and Mo said it wasn't something in his head.¬† Is it more going to sort of the tactics you might use then?¬† Anything in particular, thinking ahead to London?¬† Obviously, you want to make sure and see that it works when you're running in New York.
MO FARAH:¬† Yes.¬† Mainly, it's just running the race, feeling good, and then feeding back to coach how I felt.¬† Could I have gone faster?¬† Was I comfortable at the pace?¬† There's a lot of things that need to be answered before this race.¬† Practice my tempo, picking it up, different pace.
Mainly just focusing on the race, just do well on the race, and then after that I can talk it over with my coach and go through lots of stuff you do need to go through.¬† London's not too far, as they say.
Q.¬† Why is it New York that you chose to do the practice in?
MO FARAH:¬† New York, I've got great memories.¬† I like it here in New York.¬† There wasn't a lot of options out there in terms of other races, in terms of the field.¬† It's great to test yourself where you have a big field, good guys to run against, not just go into a small race and do it.¬† So I wanted to come out here and do it.
Q.¬† Hi, Mo.¬† It's been a month since we saw you at Eton.¬† Then you were talking about in London you thought you might be able to set a British record time.¬† Has the past month brought any more perspective into those predictions?
MO FARAH:¬† No, it's still the same thing.¬† Training actually got harder than what it was last time, but it's been going pretty well.¬† I've managed to put all those weeks behind me.
It's still the aim for London.¬† This is just another race where you test yourself and see where you're at in the Half and feed back to coach and say, this is what I felt, this was great, and in that phase I could have gone faster.¬† It's just all that stuff with your stuff.
It's not long now.¬† Hopefully, Sunday's race won't be easy, but I'll go out there and see what I can do.
Q.¬† Alberto's got a great connection with New York.¬† Is there any thought after London you could be back in the Autumn, back in the New York Marathon?
MO FARAH:¬† I'm kind of just thinking one race at a time.¬† Mainly, you know, getting this race and then London.¬† After that, just time to recover.¬† Hopefully, I'd like to be able to see if I've lost my speed or lost my track speed.¬† So it depends on how London goes.¬† Then test myself on the track and see where I am.
Q.¬† Are you back to Kenya on Monday?
MO FARAH:¬† Tuesday.
Q.¬† You've got Geoffrey Mutai up against you, and he's run under 60 minutes six times.¬† Is it important that you actually come away with a win on Sunday?¬† Are you prepared to have to run that fast to beat him?
MO FARAH:¬† Yeah, as a champion, you never want to lose a race.¬† You do anything.¬† If I say, no, I'm not going to do that, I wouldn't be telling the truth.
I'm going to go out there to practice, but obviously, every race you work hard and try to do what you need to do.¬† As I'm lining up, I won't be thinking about, oh, he's run fast.¬† If he beats me, that's okay.¬† It's not going to be okay.¬† I'll go out there and fight it.
Q.¬† Is it important psychologically, going into the London Marathon, if you can sort of beat one of the guys who's going to be your big rival for London?
MO FARAH:¬† It would be good, but since I'm only halfway‑‑ marathon is double the distance‑‑ it gives you that confidence.¬† If it was a marathon‑‑ when I am running 5K, 10K, when I win 5K you know you're in good form, and the next 5K you should be able to win it.
So it gives you confidence, but I've still got another half to go.¬† But it will definitely be‑‑ but it gives you great confidence.
Q.¬† Just one last thing.¬† You haven't broken 60 minutes before.¬† When you broke the British record in New Orleans, you had a stitch and stomach problems.¬† Do you think you're well capable of being the first Brit to go under one hour?
MO FARAH:¬† Yeah, I should be able to run‑‑ at my level, I should be able to do that.¬† At the same time, I don't know if this race is the race where you go out there and think about time and go through.¬† I should be capable, but at the same time, I think this race is about feeling confident, feeling good, taking every block through, and go back to your coach and say, This is what worked.¬† I felt comfortable at this pace, that pace.
It's all about feeling great and getting ready for London.
Q.¬† With a British record, would that be a great boost for you as you go into London?
MO FARAH:¬† It would be a good boost, but at the same time, it would be okay.¬† We've seen lots of great athletes in terms of breaking the world record half marathon, and then when it comes to marathon, not quite getting there to where they were three or four months ago, just for whatever reason.
We've seen a lot of athletes where they're capable of running up to halfway great times, world record, and then not quite managing.¬† Mainly, for me it's feeling good all the way and trying to run what you want to run to prepare to run London.¬† I would like to break the British record, but at the same time, this race try to use that and feeling great and saying I'm good to go and have that confidence.
Q.¬† From what we're hearing, it seems as though you want to go into this race to try and win it, that you're not just there to test things out and see how things work.¬† You actually want to win this race.
MO FARAH:¬† If I win, it comes as a great bonus, but at the same time, it's really just feeling good and respect the guys and go out there and do what I normally do.¬† Every race I want to win.¬† I want to do well.
If it means you're going to run so hard that you run so hard‑‑ at the same time, I'm not there to come all this way thinking, It's all right if I get beat.¬† I never think like that.¬† You know me too well.¬† Even when I play PlayStation against my daughter, I want to beat her.¬† It's just in my character.
Q.¬† Hi, Mo.¬† From what you said, it sounds like you really missed racing over the past couple of months.¬† How does it feel getting out there on the line?
MO FARAH:¬† I do, actually.¬† I do.¬† Marathon training, you don't do a lot of races.¬† You just have to get ready.¬† This is going to be the longest I've raced.¬† So I'm excited to be racing again, getting closer to London, I guess.
Q.¬† I heard you mention your family.¬† How emotional is it for you to be back in the states?
MO FARAH:¬† It's really emotional.¬† My kids have grown so much in the last few months.¬† It was‑‑ yeah, it was quite emotional because my kids still recognize me.¬† In the back of my head, I'm thinking, they might not recognize you.¬† Walk in the room and still recognize you, and they come out and give you a hug.¬† It's really emotional.
It's what it takes to be a champion.¬† I wish I could just sit in my house and do stuff with them, but I wouldn't have achieved what I have.¬† My kids are lucky to havea nice place and buy them nice stuff.¬† I guess it takes sacrifice to be a champion.
I guess some things will never be taken away from me, what I achieve in terms of winning medals and making my country proud.
There's times where you have to look and say, Look, how many people would love to do what I do.¬† So you just have to deal with it.¬† It was great to see my family.¬† I've enjoyed the last two days, being here in New York, and playing with my kids and just spending time in New York.
Q.¬† And they'll all be cheering you on on Sunday?
MO FARAH:¬† Oh, yeah.¬† For sure, yeah.
Q.¬† Mo, you said you stepped up since we last saw you in Eton?¬† You kind of talked about running 30 miles a week then.¬† Can you kind of talk about your schedule the last month where you've been doing perhaps a couple of sessions longer on a weekly basis.
MO FARAH:¬† It's been pretty much the same, just keeping it there, and just doing more quality sessions.¬† Long tempo, long reps, mileage week in and week out.¬† Sometimes your body gets tired.¬† You're tired from the week before, week‑‑ previous week.¬† So teaching your body to take it.
It's gone pretty well.¬† I haven't had any injuries, and my body's been feeling good.¬† So this week, put on the gas for this race, and then get back to it the last few weeks.
Q.¬† You mentioned that you were going to maybe go running with Wilson Kipsang.¬† Did that happen?
MO FARAH:¬† Yeah, I haven't run with him.¬† I was thinking, yea, but he's been training with other groups. ¬†So I haven't run with him.¬† There's a group with four or five guys I train with.
Q.¬† You haven't run with any of your other rivals in the London Marathon, have you, in the last month or so?
MO FARAH:¬† I run with Mike Deegan, another guy.¬† He just ran the Paris half.¬† The Paris half, I think he did like 60‑something.
MARY WITTENBERG:¬† Mo, have you run with Wesley Korir at all?
MO FARAH:¬† No, I haven't.¬† No.
Q.¬† Mo, you mentioned preying on your mind is taking the water bottles.¬† Do you feel more confident?¬† Will New York be a real test of that as well?
MO FARAH:¬† I've been practicing a lot where my coach has been taking a car, and when he's driving, he puts the bottle in the mirror, just puts it there, and I've got to kind of practice picking up. ¬†So I've been doing that.
So he's been driving the long run and putting the bottle on the side mirror to the car, just put it on there, and then while I'm running, I pick it up.¬† If I miss it, I miss it.¬† If I pick it up, then I get a drink.¬† So a few times I missed it, but other times it's been picked up all right.
I've come quite a long way since doing the half in London last time.
Q.¬† Hi, Mo.¬† I know we talked about the road stuff today, but I saw you up in Hampden in Scotland over the summer.¬† Does that suggest that might be you're committing for the Commonwealth Games after that?¬† Is that the case?
MO FARAH:¬† No.¬† To be honest with you, it's been quite a while since I've raced.¬† So my aim is to do New York Half and get ready for that and then London.¬† After London, I want to be able ‑‑ instead of just jumping on the track and saying, oh, yeah, I'm running Commonwealth European Games, there's one race I want to test myself.
Don't even know what distance I'm doing.¬† Want to get back on the track, see what my speed is there, test myself.
If I'm good to go, everything's good, then I'll make a decision.¬† At the same time, I think, can't just say, oh, yeah, I'm going to do Glasgow.¬† One reason to do Glasgow is to test myself, see where I am.¬† Then Moscow will be my first track race.¬† It's been quite a while, almost a year already.
It's important as an athlete.¬† You test yourself and see where you are.¬† If everything is good, then you're going to turn up the speed.¬† It's important that I'm 100 percent.
Q.¬† I know when we were out in Kenya, you talked about your training, and training in the marathon is going along a bumpy track.¬† Does it feel a lot smoother in that regard?
MO FARAH:¬† When you come off the gas a bit, it's still smooth.¬† Got a bit more energy.¬† But it's still kind of the same really for the marathon training.¬† You just feel tired all the time and that road rage.
Q.¬† Haile Gebrselassie said, I told Mo, I think it might be a bit too early to move for the marathon.¬† Maybe you're a bit too young.¬† What's your response?
MO FARAH:¬† You're never too young to marathon.¬† Most marathon runners I've talked to have said, I wish I'd gone the year before or that time to try it and see what I'm good at.
For me, I've won medals in the track, so why not take a year and test myself and see where I am.¬† Then if I'm good at it, maybe give a couple of more times.¬† But if not, I'm not going to try again.
I don't think I'm too young.¬† In terms of Haile, same guy that said I could never beat an African.¬† So it's hard to say, you know.
MARY WITTENBERG:¬† It's interesting because I think the question is if Haile waited too long to go to the marathon.¬† The other side of the equation.¬† I mean, got the World Record, but in terms of winning the majors and some of the other opportunities that could have been in front of him.
So we'll see.¬† Interesting question.
Q.¬† Mo, obviously, you're tried and tested at 13.¬† With all the training you've done, are you feeling a bit tentative about when you get past that 13 mark in London, about how you'll feel and how you'll react?
MO FARAH:¬† Yeah, I think with the home crowd and people supporting you, it should give you a bit more boost.¬† But I've never done a marathon.¬† We'll just find out.¬† I have done the long runs, done the over 20‑mile run, 23, 24.¬† At the same time, in a race, you carry yourself a lot further because of the adrenaline.
Q.¬† Mo, you mentioned doing the drink practice with your coach with the car on it.¬† Was that Alberto who's been out there?
MO FARAH:¬† No, it's Pete.¬† Pete Juliet.¬† Alberto is going to join me as soon as I get back, the last phase.
Q.¬† So Alberto is flying back with you on the Tuesday, is he?
MO FARAH:¬† Yeah.
Q.¬† And he'll stay there for the remaining two weeks of training?
MO FARAH:¬† Oh, yes.
Q.¬† Mo was talking about beating his daughter on the Playstation.¬† I was wondering what they actually played together on the Playstation.
MO FARAH:¬† We play different games.¬† My favorite game is obviously FIFA, but we play car racing games as well.
Q.¬† It sounds like she's pretty good.
MO FARAH:¬† She's good at racing cars.
Q.¬† Mo, would you say this is a pivotal year in your career, whether you decide to maybe just carry on, continue on the track or continue on the road leading up to Rio?
MO FARAH:¬† Definitely.¬† It depends how London goes.¬† When I come off London, if it goes bad or good.¬† I definitely want to get on the track again and see if I lost speed, what's happened.¬† It's been a whole year since I've raced.
CHRIS WEILLER:¬† Thanks again, everybody.¬† Thank you, Mo.¬† Appreciate the time.¬† Heading down to visit with the kids in a little bit.¬† That will be fun for us and for the New York media as well, get a chance to meet you and say hello.
Mary, thanks for joining us as well.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports