He will be challenged by Australia's Craig Mottram, the 2005 World Championships bronze medalist at 5,000 meters who last year battled Lagat in a Wanamaker duel that came down to the final lap. It is a rematch that took shape just moments after that race, when Lagat told the media: "I love New York and I love running in this competition. So why not come again and try for a sixth one? Hopefully, my friend Mottram will be there."
Lagat and Mottram will be among the headliners on the Madison Square Garden track as "A New Century Begins" on Feb. 1 for the Millrose Games, which last year celebrated its 100th anniversary.
With his fifth victory last year (2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007), the Kenya-born American moved into a tie for third-most Wanamaker titles. A 2008 victory would put him just one win away from tying the legendary Eamonn Coghlan's record of seven. In 2005, Lagat broke Coghlan's 24-year-old meet record.
The 101st Millrose Games, the third stop in USA Track & Field's Visa Championship Series, is set for Friday night, Feb. 1, at Madison Square Garden. Tickets are now available at Ticketmaster (call 212-307-7171, visit www.Ticketmaster.com or at Ticketmaster outlets); or at the Madison Square Garden box office. USATF welcomes you to pay with your Visa. Watch soon for the launch of the event website, www.Millrose-Games.com.NOTE: USA Track & Field's Tom Surber contributed to this report.