Sir Mo inspires the masses at Vitality Westminster Mile
26 May 2019, 2:10 p.m.
British running legend Sir Mo Farah was the star attraction at the Vitality Westminster Mile today (Sunday 26 May) as thousands of runners came together to take part in the world’s biggest timed mile event.
The quadruple Olympic champion was at the Start Line this morning to cheer on runners throughout the day as more than 30 waves set off to complete a spectacular looped course from The Mall to Buckingham Palace.
Sir Mo then joined the masses to jog the last of 15 family waves around St James’s Park as a gentle warm-up for his bid to win a sixth British 10k road race title in the Vitality London 10,000 tomorrow morning.
“It’s great to be here helping to get the kids active,” said Farah, who races tomorrow for the first time since finishing fifth in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon.
“It’s fantastic to see their parents out here too, all running together. I have four kids and I know each child has their own needs. Being a parent is challenging and events like this can help in so many ways.
“It’s really special for them to be able to run on this course and it’s important for people like me to be here. For me growing up, seeing my idols and role models close up was important and they’re here on the same course as the marathon. It’s a special thing.”
Ten-year-old Fred Bentley was one of the lucky family runners who had the chance to #RunWithMo as the sporting legend joined participants on their one-mile journey around central London’s most royal greenery.
“It was great to get a high five with Mo at the Start,” said Fred, who was running with mum, Rachel. “He gave me a lot of confidence for my run, so I pushed myself to my limit. I wanted to finish in less than seven minutes, and I did it.”
“What an experience,” added Rachel, a founder of Bromley junior parlrun and member of Petts Wood Runners. “Mo is an absolute legend and it’s so inspiring to have him here; I’m very happy we made it.”
Nine-year-old Freddie Rea was in similar mood after running with his dad, Andy, a heating engineer from Chelmsford.
“I ran it last year but it was really special to run this time in a race started by Sir Mo,” said Freddie, who runs cross-country for school and occasional ‘mud races’ with dad. “I love this course because there are no obstacles and it’s great finishing in front of Buckingham Palace.”
“It’s amazing to be able to do this with the family,” added proud dad Andy, who ran the London Marathon in 2018. “We went for it today but I couldn’t keep up with Freddie. We’ll definitely be back next year.”
For 11-year-old Saraa Kaur getting a selfie with Britain’s distance star was perfect inspiration to complete the course with her mum, Rajwant.
“It was really nice to have Mo there,” said Rajwant. “It’s a great way to get the kids into it, and it’s lovely to be able to do this event together.”
Downton Abbey star Jim Carter was one of a number of famous faces who turned out for the annual Olympic legacy event.
Carter – who played the butler, Mr Carson, in the award-winning TV series – joined the Unified Mile to celebrate 50 years of the Special Olympics, an organisation that uses sport to foster inclusion and community for people with intellectual disabilities.
“The Special Olympics is all about joining in, and that’s what this day is about too,” said Carter, who finished his mile in just under 20 minutes.
“To have 450 people running for us and being cheered around the course is a great thing and shows what a great charity it is.
“People with intellectual impairments are so often excluded, so to be here as part of the London community, in the sunshine, with Mo Farah at the start and Buckingham Palace at the end – this is London at its best; it’s thrilling.”
For Elaine Wyllie what makes the Vitality Westminster Mile so special is its emphasis on “participation and fun”. As founder of The Daily Mile school fitness initiative, that’s a message she has been promoting nationwide for more than four years.
Today she was at the Finish Line on Spur Road to greet dozens of young runners at the end of The Daily Mile London wave, featuring schools from almost every borough in the capital.
“The Vitality Westminster Mile is such an uplifting event,” she said. “It’s fun, simple and free. And it’s fully inclusive, that’s the thing. Any child can do it, whatever their ability or disability.
“Standing here, I can see kids are getting fitter,” she added. “There are so many good people in schools across London making this happen. Look at the resilience, stamina and smiles. And what better setting in the world could there be than this. It’s glorious.”
Deputy head Vicky Nuechtern ran with eight children from St Saviour’s primary in Maida Vale.
“We’ve been doing The Daily Mile for two years and it’s made a huge difference,” she said. “The kids have a sense of achievement, their fitness improves and their concentration is better when they’re back in the classroom.
“The children were so excited to be able to run here and finish at Buckingham Palace. It’s special.”
It was a special day for British international Steph Twell too as she and husband Joe Morwood smashed the Guinness World Record for running a mile while holding hands.
The pair completed the course in four minutes 50 seconds to beat the record of 5:24 set last year.
“That was brilliant,” said Twell, a double Olympian who won 5000m bronze at the European Championships last summer.
“It was tougher than I expected near the end and I felt Joe drag me a bit to the line. But I think we’ve set a good standard now and to finish here is incredible.”
According to Joe, the couple didn’t really practice running together, apart from a quick 100m sprint holding hands at the end of one long run.
“We found that quite easy but actually we’ve got different styles and it was hard to stay in sync,” he said. “But it was great fun.”
It was a feeling shared by thousands of others today.