Earlier this year Mo Farah laid down a gauntlet to good friend Usain Bolt challenging him to a 600m charity race. Bolt responded positively, saying that it would be fun and he was up for anything. So if the race happens who would win?
Firstly there is no doubt it would be close, a Telegraph poll of 6,500 people give Farah a slight edge with 55% to 45%, however maybe this is because of British people’s pride in Mo. They are both unbelievable athletes who would not enjoy being embarrassed on a world stage, so the distance has been carefully selected in order to make it a tense and unforgettable occasion.
Usain Bolt has legendry self-belief and although being a slight underdog according to bookmakers he would believe he could win. Bolt does run 600m in training so would know how to pace himself and shouldn’t be underestimated having run 45 seconds for 400m previously, just 2 seconds off world record pace. Whereas Farah has been heard in training to only manage 49 seconds over the same distance. This would give Bolt a 4 second cushion over Mo with just 200m remaining, where he would believe his already high speed and lengthy stride length could take him over the line in first place.
However, Mo Farah would certainly have something to say about this and rightly so. He is a more diverse athlete than Bolt and has already proved he can run a much wider variety of races. He has proved himself in the 1500m breaking the British record, and has run several half marathons this year, with the aim of winning next year’s London marathon. With this in mind it is thought that the 600m isn’t too far out of Farah’s comfort zone, with experts predicting that Bolt would be leading up to the 550m mark and after that Farah would take over. Farah has a huge energy supply and so over 600m he would have no trouble in maintaining his top speed for the full distance. His chance lies in forcing Bolt to run too aggressively for the first 400m and then hoping he loses all his power and composure, leading to his sprinting technique collapsing during the last part of the race, allowing Mo to ease past.
Despite Farah being tipped I still favour Bolt. He calls himself the most naturally gifted athlete in the world and so in the build-up, his endurance training would benefit him more than Farah’s speed work training. Mo wouldn’t want to gain muscle mass which would give him the power required to improve beat Bolt. Any mass which Farah gains would seriously hamper his chances of winning the London Marathon next year, his next big goal. Whereas for Bolt he wouldn’t have to sacrifice too much power when working on his stamina and so, would profit more from training than Farah, something that although against popular opinion Usain doesn’t shy away from.
Whatever the outcome it will truly be a great spectacle, with even the possibility of a world record being broken. If Bolt can manage a 45 second 400m, he would only need to trundle round the last 200m in 27 seconds to break the current record of 1 minute 12 seconds, something that even a physically spent Bolt could still amble round at. However having said this it is not a popular distance and it is believed that all of the men’s 400m or 800m Olympic field would have broken the record if it was a distance competed at, at major championships.