Lagat, Pierce Confirmed For Millrose Games

Bernard Lagat looks for his record eigth Wannmaker mile title. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Bernard Lagat will attempt to win a record eighth Wannamaker Mile.

NEW YORK – Seven-time Wanamaker Mile champion Bernard Lagat will have to defeat the man who outsprinted him for silver at the 2009 IAAF World Championships 1,500 meters when he goes for a record eighth Wanamaker title at the 103rd Millrose Games.

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Bernard Lagat looks for his record eigth Wannmaker mile title. Photo: PhotoRun.net

The 2007 world champion and two-time Olympic medalist in the 1,500m, Lagat finished third at the 2009 World Championship in Berlin behind Deresse Mekonnen of Ethiopia in a furious final sprint. On January 29 at Madison Square Garden, Lagat will have an opportunity to seek revenge against Mekonnen, as well as Millrose history.
The Millrose Games are the first stop of USA Track & Field’s Visa Championship Series Indoor Circuit, which culminates with the 2010 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships, February 27-28 in Albuquerque, N.M. The 103rd Millrose Games will be televised live on January 29 on ESPN2 from 8-10 p.m. Eastern Time.  The Wanamaker Mile is scheduled to begin at 9:50 p.m.

The 2007 World Outdoor 1,500m and 5,000m champion, Lagat won his seventh Wanamaker Mile title at last year’s Millrose Games, which tied all-time Irish legend and “Chariman of the Boards” Eamonn Coghlan for the most wins ever in that prestigious event.

The reigning World Indoor 1,500m champion, Mekonnen had a strong 2009 campaign, ending the season ranked #4 in the world by Track & Field News.  In Berlin last summer, Lagat was boxed in on the rail during the men’s 1,500m final. He broke out in the final straightaway, moving from fifth to third to finish in 3:36.20 behind Mekonnen’s sliver in 3:36.01. Lagat went on to win the 5,000m silver medal, ending the decade with a combined total of seven World Championship and Olympic Games medals.

Willard Pierce headlines women’s 1,500 meters

The women’s 1,500m also will feature a strong field, headlined by USA Indoor champion and Olympian Anna Pierce (formerly Willard).

Pierce, who married 3,000m steeplechaser Jonathan Pierce in September, won last year at the London Grand Prix, finished second in Zurich and ended the season ranked #6 in the world and #3 in the U.S. for 1,500m by Track & Field News. She was a leader in a phenomenal year for American women’s middle-distance runners. The former steeplechase American record holder dipped under 4:00 for 1,500m and 2:00 for 800m, posting a U.S.-leading 3:59.38 for the longer distance and the second-fastest time for the 800 (1:58.80). In 2008, Pierce was tenth at the Beijing Olympic Games in 9:25.63.

Challenging Pierce at Millrose will be Sally Kipyego of Kenya, who won nine individual NCAA titles while at Texas Tech University, equaling the all-time record set by former University of Wisconsin great Suzy Favor Hamilton. Kipyego is the first woman ever to win three consecutive Big 12 Conference and NCAA women’s cross country titles. She won NCAA titles at 3,000m (indoors) and outdoors in the 5,000m and 10,000m.

For ticket information for the 103rd Millrose Games visit:  http://ny.milesplit.us/articles/31594. USATF welcomes you to pay with your Visa.

For more information on the 2010 Millrose Games and the Visa Championship Series, visit: www.usatf.org or www.millrose-games.com.

Source: USTAF/Tom Surber

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