Thursday, May 4, 2017

Bernard Lagat among all-star cast of pacers for Nike's Breaking 2 race in Monza...

Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) is one of the pacesetters for this weekend’s attempt in Monza, Italy by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea to become the first man to break two hours in the marathon.

According to Runner’s World, the race is scheduled for Saturday, May 6th at 5:45 am, local time (11:45pm Friday night on the East Coast, and 8:45pm Friday on the West Coast). That said, Nike’s announced a three-day window in which the race goes off, so that the runners have the most ideal conditions.

In this Nike project that combines state of the art apparel and futuristic footwear, the three will wear customized versions of the Zoom Vaporfly Elite, which features two layers of Nike’s new proprietary foam midsole called ZoomX that sandwiches a stiff carbon fiber plate, to give the shoe a track-spike like feel.

Nike will release a takedown version of the Vaporfly Elite in June, called the Zoom Vaporfly 4% (abovephoto courtesy Nike), a model that Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg tested in both last year’s US Olympic Trials and at the Olympics in Rio, as well as all three men’s marathon medalists in the Olympics.

No matter what your thoughts are on this attempt (Nike sponsors all three men, as well as the pacesetters), this is certainly one of the most intriguing races/time trials on the 2017 running calendar.

The three men will be accompanied by Lagat and an all-star cast of 18 pacers that includes Arizona alum and Lagat’s training partner Stephen Sambu; Bowerman TC members Chris Derrick and Andrew Bumbalough; and Sam Chelanga, who was Team USA’s top finisher at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in late March in Kampala, Uganda.

Several sources note that the teams of pacers will run two loops of 2.4k around the Autodromo Nazionale Monza course before dropping out, then going back in approximately 30 minutes later to resume pacing duties, which, if true, would break current racing rules regarding the use of pacemakers.

In a Nike press release, Lagat, who announced his retirement from track racing at the end of 2016, but is training to compete in several road races, including the Peachtree 10k in Atlanta on July 4th, is using the experience as one of the pacers to reinvigorate a big dream: “I feel new excitement to try to break the American record in the 10000 meters,” he told Nike.

NOTE:  Nike, Inc. contributed to this report.

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