Sept 15 (Reuters) - Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele won the battle of the distance greats when he held off a late surge from world and Olympic 10,000 and 5,000 metres champion Mo Farah to win the Great North Run half marathon on Sunday.
Bekele, the world record holder over 5,000 and 10,000, won in one hour nine seconds on his debut over the 21.08-km distance from Newcastle to South Shields, with Briton Farah one second behind in wet and windy conditions.
Multiple world and Olympic gold medallist Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia was third in 1:00:41, an over-40 world best, as the three athletes, who between them have won all the Olympic men's 10,000 titles since 1996, raced together for the first time.
Bekele attacked on a downhill section in the final 1.6 km to pull clear of Farah and Gebrselassie and although the Briton, renowned for his pace on the track, chased down his rival over the last 400 metres he found himself crossing the line in the unusual position of second.
"It was a great race and a great finish," Farah, who will make his marathon debut in London next year, told BBC television.
"When Kenenisa went with a mile to go I thought the pace was ridiculous.
"I thought I could come back. It came down to the last 200 metres," added the 30-year-old, who became the second man behind Bekele to simultaneously hold the world and Olympic distance double when he triumphed in Moscow last month.
London marathon champion Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya won the women's race in 1:05:44, ahead of Ethiopia's world and Olympic distance champions Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba. (Writing by Alison Wildey in London; Editing by Clare Fallon)