By Duncan Mackay

Mo Farah crossing line at London 2012February 16 - Britain's double Olympic champion Mo Farah will get his first taste of an elite marathon when he runs the first half of the 2013 Virgin London Marathon alongside some of the greatest runners of all time.

The Olympic 5000m and 10,000 metres champion has agreed to make his full marathon debut at the 2014 London Marathon and will use this year's race on April 21 to prepare himself for the challenge of tackling 26.2 miles.

Farah's aim is to test himself against the best in the world while becoming familiar with the London course.

He will start with the elite men's field and run to half way in the company of athletes such as marathon world record holder Patrick Makau, Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich and world champion Abel Kirui.

Stephen Kiprotich winning London 2012Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich is part of a formidable field for the 2013 Virgin London Marathon

The line-up contains six of the 10 quickest men of all time, and four previous London Marathon winners, including reigning London champion Wilson Kipsang and course record holder Emmanuel Mutai.

Farah's appearance represents something of a homecoming for the Londoner who enjoyed some of his earliest victories on the national stage when he won the London Mini Marathon three years in a row as a schoolboy between 1998 and 2000.

The London Marathon supported Farah's career as he developed into a world-beating athlete, going on to win two gold medals at the 2010 European Championships and claiming the world 5,000m title before his double Olympic triumph at London 2012.

The London Marathon in conjunction with UK Athletics have provided continuous support for the High Altitude Training Centre in Iten, Kenya where many British endurance runners train, especially Farah who is a regular visitor, and this centre has now evolved into a recognised international athletics endurance training centre hosting athletes from all around the world.

The London Marathon have supported St. Mary's University College for over 10 years and since 2010 has funded the St Mary's Endurance Performance and Coaching Centre (EPACC) in partnership with St. Mary's  and England Athletics.

Farah, a former student at St Mary's for 10 years, lived in the house bought for St. Mary's by the London Marathon, which provides athletics students at the college with accommodation. Farah trained and ran on the college track, funded also by the London Marathon.

"As a young boy growing up in London it has always been my ambition to run the London Marathon," said Farah.

"I won the Mini Marathon when I was younger and have watched the race every year for as long as I can remember.

"I will make my marathon debut in the 2014 London Marathon but will run the 2013 race to half way as part of my preparation for 2014.

"It will allow me to understand the course and the systems I will need when I run the full distance.

"To run as the double Olympic champion makes it even more special.

"[Former London Marachon race director] Dave Bedford and the London Marathon have always been there for me and it will be my pleasure to run my first marathon in London."

Farah already has considerable experience on the roads.

He holds the national record for 10 kilometres and has won the Bupa London 10,000 four years in a row.

Mo Farah at NYC half marathon 2011Mo Farah set a British record when he won the New York City Half-Marathon in 2011

He made his half marathon debut in 2011 when he won the New York City Half Marathon in 60min 23sec, another British record.

London Marathon race director Hugh Brasher welcomed Farah's decision to join the 2013 race.

"We are delighted that Mo wants to run with our elite runners this year," said Brasher.

"We have been following and supporting Mo's career since he first won the Mini London Marathon 15 years ago and are full of anticipation for his marathon debut in 2014.

"Hopefully, his experience of the race, the route and the unique atmosphere of the London Marathon will stand him in good stead when he takes on the full race next year.

"We are sure he will gain some valuable insights and come back fully prepared for the challenge."

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