Mo Farah keeps a watchful eye on Callum Hawkins.

“I see him in Flagstaff training,” the Knight of the Realm says, so it is a scouting mission, of sorts.

The pair headline the home contingent in today’s Great North Run on Tyneside with the four-time Olympic champion confidently forecasting

the strategy to be deployed by the Scot.

“I can’t see him running any other way than going to the front and pushing on,” Farah says.

He is correct, affirms Hawkins, who is one of a clutch of contenders – including Olympic bronze medallist Tamirat Tola – seeking to thwart Farah’s attempt to secure a record sixth successive victory in the historic half-marathon.

Returning from a fortnight in the sunshine of Mallorca that followed an altitude stint in Arizona with the Englishman among his occasional observers, the Scot will squeeze his competitive juices some four weeks out from the midnight marathon at the world championships in Doha in which he, rather than the European record holder, will front the UK’s challenge.

“I’m going to put myself in the lead group and see how it feels,” Hawkins confirms. “I did do 140 miles last week so I’ve had a pretty heavy load. But it should be fun.”

The ideal would be to duck under the one-hour barrier for the first time, surpassing the frustratingly excellent best of precisely 60 minutes which Kilbarchan’s finest clocked in Japan two years ago.

It is, though, unlikely due to the wind that often blows as the Great North Run winds its way from Newcastle to the coast of South Shields. It is more realistic to chase a solid placing that offers promising portents for his test in the desert.

His ambitions for Qatar are exacting.

“I already have an idea of what I want from the worlds which is to do better than my fourth from last time,” Hawkins says. “If you look at the conditions, it might be hard to run two hours and seven minutes even in the night-time humidity. Hopefully a few people will get that part wrong.”

Kenya’s Mary Keitany will bid to win her fourth Great North Run since 2014 in the women’s race with Scottish challenger Steph Twell and Charlotte Purdue heading the domestic chase.

Meanwhile, Eilish McColgan celebrated a timely victory over the mile at yesterday’s Great North CityGames on the streets of Newcastle in 4:32.04. For the Dundonian, it was a loosener ahead of this week’s Europe v USA contest in Minsk in which the Dundonian has accepted a late invitation to run both the 1,500m and 3,000m on successive days of the Ryder Cup-style showpiece.

“It gives me a good opportunity to prepare for heats and finals at world championships,” she said. “They’re shorter than I’d do in Doha but they’ll be really good tactical races. And I think that’s what I need as well, just to engage my racing brain a little bit. So I’m looking forward to those and then I’ll head back up to St Moritz, and that’ll be my final spell before the worlds.”

Fellow Scot Beth Dobbin, also bound for Belarus, was third in the 150m in the main CityGames leg in Stockton behind six-time Olympic champion Allyson Felix.

Guy Learmonth concluded a season of under-achievement with fifth in the 400m with the Borderer vowing to heed lessons as he commences his countdown towards Tokyo 2020.

“I try not to mess about,” he said. “I’m very professional. But there have been times where I’ll let things slip. My diet. Me thinking I can take on whatever race I’m offered. It’s not an arrogance, but it’s just me thinking I can pull things off. And I need to sort that out.”