Statisticians A Lennart Julin and Mirko Jalava look back on the best long-distance performances of the year.
Sub-13-minute performances have become rare in recent years.
In the 10 years between 2004 and 2013, there was an average of 13 sub-13 performers each season spread across an average of five races. But 2014 and 2015 had just two such races in each season with a total of four and six runners respectively breaking that barrier.
The IAAF Diamond League provided the two sub-13-minute races of the year, both won by Ethiopian teenager Yomif Kejelcha: 12:58.69 in Rome in June and 12:53.98 in Brussels in September.
Ahead of the World Championships, the question once more was what the runners from Kenya and Ethiopia would come up with tactically to try to unsettle Mo Farah. Despite their strength in numbers, they had failed to find a recipe for success at the past three global championships. Instead, they appeared to have put their hopes solely on Farah having an off-day.
This scenario repeated itself in 2015. The Beijing final actually started slower than the women’s final and nothing happened until Caleb Ndiku burst to the front with two laps to go. But despite Ndiku’s best efforts, he was unable to shake off Farah who attacked into the final straight and won comfortably after a 1:48.7 last 800m.
With Farah’s finish as strong as ever, anyone planning to challenge for the gold in Rio 2016 needs to find a way of getting Farah out of his comfort zone before the last kilometre.