Mo Farah & Pacemakers
I don’t know Sir Mo Farah personally. Our paths never crossed except occasionally on the running trails around town. And of course, at one time or another at the handful of American track & field meets I help direct.
Often, the responsibility of securing rabbits for the fields at these meets is my task. Delivering quality rabbits is important. Careers are on the line. People have come to run fast. You can’t drop the ball. I enjoy doing it and take it very seriously.
Coaches and agents also take pacemaking assignments seriously. Some see it as a matter of life and death. Usually, there is some degree of turmoil regarding a rabbit’s target duties before the gun goes off. It is a curious drama in which to be involved.
The meets I help host are grassroots, bootstrap affairs. These aren’t Diamond League meetings with multimillion-dollar budgets. They are simple, intimate, mom-and-pop events where everyone on the staff knows each other by first name. I like it that way. It symbolizes what the sport is all about to me — a passionate community working together in concert.
Races that included Sir Mo were the easiest to get rabbits. Why? Because he mostly used these meets to tune up for harder tests on bigger stages later in the season. It wasn't make or break for him, so the paces needed to fair, not hot. Although, a "fair" Mo Farah pace to most is "hot."
I still remember the first meet which I was helping direct that he ran. I think it was 2011 or 2012, right when he was ascending to megastar status.
I was nervous about whether the quality of the rabbits acquired was sufficient. At the start line, I told him so.
Sir Mo looked at me and said in his British accent, “Don’t worry mate, when it comes time I’ll take control and get the job done. You just watch.” I watched. He did as he said, winning in spectacular, otherworldly fashion.
Since then, I haven't worried about the pacemakers for Sir Mo that I provide. When it comes down to it, he'll do what he has to do to win. You just watch.
Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're here. // jm