Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bernard Lagat adds American road record in 5k to his resume...

CARLSBAD, California--He already owns American track records outdoors at 1500, 3000 and 5000, along with indoor records at 1500, mile, and the 2000 in his career, not to mention two Olympic medals and a slew of world indoor and outdoor titles in his career.

What else can Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) add?

The Washington State University alum,  running in his first competitive 5000 road race, broke the American record at that distance in finishing second in the elite men's race at the Carlsbad 5000 Sunday.

Lagat was aiming for the American road 5k record of 13:24, set by Marc Davis in 1996, and the pace was well under that when he, along with three time defending Carlsbad 5000 champ Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia, took off at the gun, with Northern Arizona alum and Mexican Olympian Diego Estrada.

In the final half mile, Gebremeskel used his course experience to trump Lagat, pulling away to a 13:13 win to give him the four-peat.

The Tuscon resident took home $11000--$3500 for second, $2500 for top American, and $5000 for the American record.

Augustine Choge (13:22) and Edwin Kipyego (13:26) went 3-4, while Estrada finished fifth in 13:31.

“It’s a big advantage [for him],” Lagat said of Gebremeskel’s course experience. “I knew from history that this course would be a challenge. It’s not that easy even though it looks flat. I went in with the mindset to have fun, stay relaxed as much as possible. Dejen was right there pushing the first mile, and at halfway I couldn’t even see him, but he was right behind us. He was basically taking a breather at the back—he was waiting. And when he took the turn, he just unleashed it, so experience matters a lot on this course.”

In the women's elite race, Julia Bleadsdale won in 15:06, well clear of Iowa State alum Betsy Saina (15:22).  

Ethiopia's Etalemhu Habtewold was third in 15:23, while Brenda Martinez was fourth in 15:25 as the top American, and USA cross country champ Amy Van Alstine was fifth in 15:30.

NOTE:  The Competitor Group contributed to this report.

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