PALO ALTO—Bernard Lagat’s (left/photo by Paul Merca) debut at 10000 meters was everything that the fans at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Cobb Track & Angell Field on the campus of Stanford University looked for.
Lagat looked surprisingly relaxed as the large field of 28 runners got going on a very calm evening in the Bay Area.
Through the first 9000 meters, he was running steady, running consistent laps of 66 to 68 seconds, keeping himself positioned in the top six or so, in a group that included former NCAA champ Sam Chelanga, Northern Arizona’s Futsum Zienasellassie, and Japan’s Suguru Osako, who trains in Oregon with the Nike Oregon Project.
He took the lead with over 800 meters to go, as he dropped a 63 second lap, only to have Osako match it.
As the two started on the last lap, Osako motored past Lagat, and the race was on.
Coming off the final turn, Lagat’s experience as one of the world’s best kickers came in handy, as the 41 year old answered with a 58.8 final lap to duck under the Olympic standard of 28:00.00 comfortably, clocking 27:49.35.
In the “oh,by the way” category, that mark was a world masters record for the 40-45 age group, and is the current US leader and the seventh fastest in the world so far this season.
“The pace was awesome, We were running consistent 66-67s, but I was telling myself to relax, and not to listen to the splits.”
“When I saw towards the end Suguro try to disappear, I told myself, ‘no, this isn’t happening’ and went. with him.”
In other highlights:
—Washington’s Izaic Yorks, the defending Pac-12 champ at 1500, ran a school record 3:37.74 to win the top section of the men’s 1500, defeating several Olympians and world championship competitors in the process.
He hoped to run the Olympic A standard of 3:36.20, “but we’ll save that for another day when I’m a little stronger and a little faster.”
—Fellow Husky Anna Maxwell ran a surprising 4:12.62, the second fastest time in the collegiate ranks this season, and the fourth fastest time in school history;
—Stanford alum Justine Fedronic, a French citizen who trains in Seattle with the Beasts TC, charged from fourth place to finish second in the top section of the women’s 800, running 2:00.64, which would be in the top five in the world this season.