Lagat Makes History With 8th Wanamaker Mile Victory
Written By: David Monti
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved.
It was over in a New York minute.
With an explosive move at the bell, two-time Olympic medallist Bernard Lagat opened a big lead in tonight’s Wanamaker Mile at the 103rd Millrose Games to collect a record eighth Wanamaker victory, breaking his tie with Irish legend Eamonn Coghlan, the famed Chairman of the Boards.
“He knows the boards better than anybody in that race,” Coghlan said after watching Lagat topple his record. “He won it in classic Coghlan style.”
Lagat, 35, ran most of the 11-lap race in third place behind pacemaker David Krummenacker and reigning Olympic 1500m gold medallist Asbel Kiprop of Kenya. The pace of the six-man field was honest through halfway (1:57.6), but after Krummenacker stepped aside with five laps to go, the tempo slackened to 2:59.2 at the three-quarters mark. It was at that point that Lagat decided it was best to wait to make his move.
“It’s just that speed that I’ve been working on, and I knew exactly when to make a move” he told reporters. “I wasn’t going to wait until at the bell like that to make that move, but I wanted to make it a little earlier than I made today, but I was happy with that. I increased the pace as I went through two corners, and I knew by the time I turned back, I knew the victory was mine.”
Lagat’s move left Kiprop, a man with 1:43.17 800-meter speed, flat-footed.
“It was really a surprise,” said the 6′-3″ Kiprop who had never run an indoor race before. “I never knew he is still strong the way he is, compared with how he was running in 2008, you know? He’s really different this year.”
Lagat ran the last lap alone, and broke the tape in 3:56.34 to the delight of the 11,510 fans who attended the meet. Kiprop was able to hold off Britain’s Andy Baddeley to finish second, 3:58.03 to 3:58.09.
For a man who has won nine Olympic and world championships medals, winning for the eighth time here was still very special for Lagat.
“You know, it ranks among the top,” Lagat said. “To me, it’s like winning the Olympics today. Because, if you think about it, I’ve been here since 2001. I was signing autographs for kids who I’m sure in 2001 weren’t even born. And I’m still running.”
Unlike the men’s race, the women’s mile featured a very close finish. After pacemaker Karen Shinkins retired, former Tennessee star Sarah Bowman led until one and one-half laps to go when Britain’s Hannah England shot to the lead. Sara Hall gave chase, and entering the penultimate turn, Hall got on England’s shoulder and appeared to get around her coming out of the final turn.
“Coming around that turn you don’t have much room,” said Hall, who pointed out that England was running wide to protect her position. “It’s hard on this track.”
Hall pushed herself all the way to the line, but England got there 2/100ths of a second earlier in 4:31.48. The 2008 NCAA 1500m champion was thrilled with her first win Madison Square Garden.
“It’s really, really nice,” said England, beaming. “I was kind of hoping, maybe, I could pull it off, and I’m really, really happy with it.
There were two runaways in the high school miles, but only one was expected. In the girl’s contest Corey McGee of Pass Christian High School in Mississippi, overwhelmed pre-race favorite Emily Lipari of Roslyn High School in New York. Lipari ran close behind McGee until there were five laps to go, when she began to fade.
“I don’t know why,” said Lipari, a strong kicker who will attend Villanova University next year. “I’ve been running well.”
Lipari would fade to fifth, while McGee breezed to a three-second win in 4:52.77 over Aisling Cuffe of Cornwall High School in New Windsor, N.Y.
In the boy’s race, top-seeded Pat Schellberg of the Delbarton School in N.J., took the lead with five laps to go, and was never challenged. He coasted to victory in 4:14.84
“This is the win I really wanted, because I came in second and third a lot last year, and I really wanted to beat some of the top milers in the nation,” said Schellberg wrapped in his school flag. “It’s undescribable.”
In the other middle distance race of the night, Lagat’s training partner, Boaz Lalang of Kenya, won the 800m over American Duane Solomon, 1:50.51 to 2:51.14.