Sir Mo Farah declared the fear factor which accompanied his move into full-time road running two years ago dead and buried as he claimed his fifth straight Great North Run title in South Shields.
Farah led from the front to cross the line in an impressive 59 minutes and 26 seconds, just four seconds short of the personal best he had set in winning his second title in 2015.
His win set him up perfectly for his assault on his first major marathon title in Chicago early next month which would further vindicate his decision to end his glittering track career in the wake of his Rio success in 2016.
Farah said: “When you’re new to this, you do fear it. You don’t know what to do. You almost cower in the corner. But I don’t have that fear now. I have more confidence now, having run a couple of marathons.”
Farah shrugged off New Zealand’s Jake Robertson in the final section of the race to win by 30 seconds, with Belgium’s Bashir Abdi coming in third. Favourite Vivian Cheruiyot saw off fellow Kenyan Brigid Kosgei to win her second women’s title in one hour, seven minutes and 43 seconds, with Northern Ireland’s Emma Mitchell the best-placed British finisher in eighth place.
It was a dominant performance as expected from Farah in front of an enthusiastic home crowd, and one which placed him in the history books as the first man to win the event five times.
Farah added: “I’m happy with where I am. I just can’t wait until Chicago. The aim is to stay injury-free and stay focused and keep doing what I’m doing, and it’s definitely working.
“The conditions made it tough. If they had been perfect as in previous years. I would definitely have run a lot faster. The last two miles, particularly the last one, were tough. I was tiring towards the end.
“There is definitely a bit more work to do towards Chicago. The aim was to use this as a test – play with the pace, go to the front and wait. So we’re already thinking about what lies ahead and how to do it.”
Such was Farah’s speed off the start line there were real hopes that he might challenge the course record of 58mins 56secs set by Kenya’s Martin Mathathi in 2011.
Farah led a four-man bunch including Robertson, former London Marathon champion Daniel Wanjiru and Abdi clear of the field, but had dropped the latter pair by the halfway stage.
Cheered by crowds bordering the course in sunny conditions, Farah stretched out to shrug off Robertson and push towards the line, only narrowly falling short of his former mark.
For Robertson, the brash Kiwi who moved to Kenya in order to enhance his distance-running credentials and had fallen only six seconds short of Farah in last year’s event, it was another chastening experience.
“I said yesterday I was facing a legend and again he proved why,” admitted Robertson.
“Today I didn’t challenge him the way I would have liked but I’ll take lessons from it.”
Earlier David Weir won the men’s wheelchair race for the seventh time in his career in a course record of 41.19.