Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bernard Lagat opens 2011 outdoor campaign with victory in Melbourne...

MELBOURNE, Australia--Only five days after winning the USA indoor championships at 3000 meters, Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat (left, with Chris Solinsky/photo by Paul Merca) opened his 2011 outdoor season by winning the 5000 meters in the final event of the Melbourne Track Classic at Olympic Park, the opening meet of the IAAF World Challenge.

After pacemaker Brandon Bethke dropped out with four laps to go, Lagat took over pacing chores with Oregon TC/Portland's Chris Solinsky, with the idea that they get their IAAF world championships "A" standard of 13:20.00 out of the way early.

With less than a lap to go, Lagat began accelerating away from Solinsky, but was slightly surprised to have Australia's Ben St. Lawrence on his shoulder with 200 to go.

Coming off the final turn, Lagat's speed and leg turnover was too much for St. Lawrence, as the reigning world indoor champ at 3000m motored to the victory in 13:08.43.

St. Lawrence was rewarded with a personal best of 13:10.08, followed by Solinsky in 13:10.22.

OTC/Portland teammates Matt Tegenkamp (13:16.27) and Andrew Bumbalough (13:16.77) easily ducked under the world championships "A" standard in fourth and fifth.

Tegenkamp and Bumbalough were fourth, and second, respectively at last month's USA cross country championships in San Diego, and qualified to represent Team USA at the IAAF world cross country championships in Punta Umbria, Spain on March 20th.

Afterwards, Lagat told the on-field announcer, "My aim was for a lot of us to hit the time (13:20). I'm happy for all my American colleagues who came here to run with me, and this is fantastic!"

Complete results from the IAAF Melbourne Track Classic are available here.

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