Callum Hawkins has spent months carefully plotting his challenge at next month’s world championships in Doha. Miles in the mountains. Sweating in the sun. In his last competitive outing before diverting to the desert, the Scot collected enough evidence that his endeavours can deliver returns on investment by coming fourth at yesterday’s Great North Run.

Backing up his vow to seize the initiative, the Scot charged to the head an illustrious leading pack at the mid-way point on Tyneside. “It was starting to settle a bit so I wanted to test what people had,” the 27-year-old revealed. “I wanted to see who was up for it.” Few were, but even he could not maintain such pace. As the contenders were filtered out, his pursuit faltered and it left to Mo Farah to emerge victorious for the sixth successive year in 59 minutes and seven seconds.

However, Hawkins logged a time of 60:39 with some cobwebs blown off and some belief reinforced ahead of his midnight marathon at the worlds. “I’m hoping it suggests some good things but it’s tough to say,” said the 27-year-old, whose elder brother Derek came 14th in his return to the front line. “Every marathon is different. When I went into London this year, I’d run a 62:50 half and then ended up running quickly. So you never know.”

Farah, soon to defend his Chicago Marathon crown, saw his monopoly threatened by Ethiopia’s Tamarit Tola. Yet the Olympic champion burst forth over the closing two miles, establishing a half-marathon personal best at the age of 36. “He was just pushing and there were a couple of points where he got little bit of a gap,” he admitted. “I was just fighting.”

Charlotte Purdue moved into third place in the UK’s all-time rankings with a charge into fifth place in 68:10 while Steph Twell’s last rehearsal for her 10,000m outing at the worlds delivered tenth in a lifetime best for the Scot of 70:52.

“It would have been nice to get under 70 but I ran a solo race and I’m still quite new to the event so I am quite cautious over how much I can push,” she confirmed. “I’m training for marathon but also 10,000m at the worlds. But I came through this in one piece and that’s the main thing for Doha.”

David Weir won the wheelchair race for the eighth time in 43:31 with Musselburgh’s Sean Frame sixth. Jade Hall landed women’s victory in 50:15.