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, Monday 27 May.
“It’s great to be here helping to get the kids active,” said Farah. “It’s really special for kids 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.”
Former England cricket captain Andrew Strauss took part in the event with his two sons, Sam and Luca, in memory of his wife Ruth, who died in December 2018 from a rare form of lung cancer, and to launch the Ruth Strauss Foundation alongside the entire England men’s ICC World Cup squad.
“It is incredible to see so many people come together to support my wife and what we’re trying to do with the Foundation,” said Strauss, who captained the England test side from 2008 to 2012 and was part of the famous 2005 Ashes winning team.
“It is quite an emotional day but really special for me too. I have had huge support from the cricket family, but loads of others as well – friends, family, schools, all sorts. It’s great to see it all come together.
“Anyone can do this, that’s the great thing, so it was a perfect way to launch the Foundation. To be here on The Mall and in front of Buckingham Palace is stunning. It is days like this that bring out the best in London and in the country.”
Strauss is hoping the initiative will help him raise some much-needed funds for the new Foundation, which aims to increase awareness of a form of lung cancer that can affect young people and women, in particular, including non-smokers.
World Cup Captain Eoin Morgan was one of the current England players who turned out to support Strauss as his squad warmed up for their imminent World Cup campaign with a jog around St James’s Park just four days before their opening one-day fixture against South Africa on Thursday.
“It means an incredible amount to support Andrew by taking part in the Ruth Strauss Foundation wave at the Vitality Westminster Mile,” he said. “I think he’s quite humbled by the turnout but there was never any question that the full England team and staff would come, as well as the Middlesex team.
“The Strauss family has played a huge part in making England cricket feel more like a family, so for the guys playing the World Cup this year, a big part of the last four years of preparation has involved the Strauss family.
“Taking part in an event like this also puts things in perspective; as does the Ruth Strauss Foundation itself. There are big pressures during the World Cup but it’s also something to look forward to.”
“People will say it’s great for us to be here when the World Cup is around the corner, but cricket pales into the background against what Andrew’s been through,” added all-rounder Ben Stokes.
Strauss was full of gratitude for the England team’s efforts.
“It means a huge amount to me to have the England team here,” he said. “I know the situation they’re in right now and the huge demands on their time. I’m absolutely blown away that they made it.”
Downton Abbey star Jim Carter was also one of the 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.
“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.”
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.