Friday, June 4, 2010

Bernard Lagat adds American Record in 5000m to his resume...

OSLO, Norway--For distance running fans in the United States, the build-up to the mens 5000 meter run at the Exxon/Mobil Bislett Games was whether or not new American 10000 meter record holder Chris Solinsky of Portland was going to beat former world champion and Washington State University hall of famer Bernard Lagat.

On the USA Track & Field fan page on Facebook, a photo illustration (left/courtesy USATF) was set up and a prediction contest set up for fans to guess the winner of the duel, with the prediction time used as a tiebreaker.

For the second time in nine months, the American record in the 5000 meter run was broken, as Lagat finished third in a time of 12:54.12, behind winner Imane Merga of Ethiopia (12:53.81), and countryman Tariku Bekele (12:53.97).

For most of the race, Lagat positioned himself between third and fifth place, never far off from the leaders.

With about 250 meters to go, Lagat, who was positioned on the rail in third, saw a gap open up on the inside and shot to the lead.

Tariku Bekele, the younger brother of reigning world and Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele went with the former Cougar, as it appeared the duo had cleared themselves of the field as they entered the home straight.

However, Merga somehow gathered himself after Lagat and Bekele broke away, and accelerated coming off the final turn, surprising the duo as he swung into the outside lane to take the win.

After breaking the American record of 12:56.27 set by Dathan Ritzenhein set las year, Lagat told Universal Sports' Joe Battaglia, "Before, everyone was looking to run 12:58," Lagat said. "Now, they'll be looking to run 12:53."

Meanwhile, Solinsky, a member of the Oregon Track Club Elite/Portland group that trains out of the Nike campus in Beaverton, finished sixth in the race in a personal best of 12:56.66, running the third fastest time ever by an American, as four other runners behind Solinsky broke the 13-minute barrier.

This race gives the United States four active runners who have broken 13 minutes--Lagat, Ritzenhein, Solinsky, and Matt Tegenkamp (12:58.56).

In other events involving athletes with Washington affiliations, three time US Olympian Aretha Thurmond from Federal Way finished third in the discus with a throw of 202-9 (61.80m), in an event won by Germany's Nadine Muller, who spun the platter 209-9 (63.93m).

In the women's 800 (non-Diamond League race), former University of Washington standout Ingvill Måkestad from Norway finished fourth in a time of 2:02.47. as Russia's Anna Balakhshina took the win in 2:01.65.

The IAAF Diamond League series resumes next week with two meets--the Golden Gala meet in Rome on Thursday, June 10th, and the adidas Grand Prix in New York two days later.

Complete results of the Exxon/Mobil Bislett Games can be accessed here.

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