LAALOU, LAGAT LEAD MEN’S FIELD
The men’s elite race at will be highlighted by four-time World Champion, two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat of Tucson, Ariz., who will once again battle it out against Amine Laalou of Morocco who out-kicked him in the 2010 edition of the race. Fresh off a recent silver medal in the 5000m in the 2011 World Championships, Lagat’s accolades also include a number of USA national records (outdoors in the 1500m, 3000m, 5000m and indoors in the 1500m, 3000m, and two miles). At 36, Lagat is not fazed by the critics who wonder how long his career will last.
“Sometimes I run to prove myself, not to fellow athletes, but to the press and the commentators that I can still perform well, even though they write me off as too old and ask me when I am going to retire,” joked Lagat. “It fires me up when they say I can’t do it.”
What bothers Lagat the most is how a victory at this esteemed event has eluded him, and also the fact his finish times have slowed over the last three years he has competed. Yet, Lagat remains determined for a victory at the Fifth Avenue Mile and has not let up in training.
“I built a strong base and that will take me. I still feel strength in my legs. I feel light. Mentally, I feel strong. And after Newcastle (where he won a road mile last Saturday) I feel great. On Saturday I was training and later in the day I ran for fun to say hello to all the people in town (Tübingen, Germany). That may be why I came in second on race day. But I am focused. Monday I rested. Tuesday an eleven mile tempo at sixty minutes (5:29 pace). Wednesday I was traveling but I ran six miles in an easy forty minutes in the park.”
If this is what Lagat brings to the table on race day, the other top competitors in the field need to be prepared.
Others on the men’s roster include Nick Symmonds (four-time USA 800m champion, fifth at the World Championships 800m), David Torrence (three-time USA road mile champion), Jeff Riseley (Australian 1500m Champion), and Lagat’s training partner Boaz Lalang (silver medalist at the World Indoor Championships 800m, runner-up at the 2009 Fifth Avenue Mile).
The athletes will be competing for a $30,000 prize purse.