The 10-time global medalist will make his debut at the “World’s Fastest 5K” at the end of March.
CARLSBAD, Calif. — If you’re looking for a record-breaking performance, then Bernard Lagat is your man and the Carlsbad 5000 is your race.
The 39-year-old Lagat, one of the world’s all-time great distance runners, will be making his Carlsbad debut on Sunday, March 30 and his goal is to try and break the American record of 13:24 set by Marc Davis in 1996.
“I’m happy to finally make it to the start line of the Carlsbad 5000,” Lagat said. “It’s been on my radar for some time, but we just never managed to get there to toe the line. It’s a truly iconic U.S. road race with a great history of world records with many of the finest athletes of all time adding their names to the list of champions. I’m looking forward to racing on the west coast after what I hope is a successful defense of my world indoor title over 3,000 meters.”
Lagat knows what he speaks of regarding world records. Since the inaugural edition of the race in 1986, the Carlsbad 5000 has produced 16 world records, including the all-time best of 13:00 by Kenya’s Sammy Kipketer in 2000, a mark he matched in 2001. It also has been the scene of eight U.S. records.
There’s no doubt that Lagat is in shape to attack Davis’ mark. He is coming off his third consecutive national record at the NYRR Millrose Games in New York, setting the 2,000-meter mark of 4:54.74 last weekend. Ironically, the record of 4:58.6 he smashed belonged to Steve Scott, and it was Scott who set the first world record at Carlsbad (13:32) in 1986.
Lagat, a 10-time medalist in the Olympics and IAAF World Championships, including five golds, is also the American record-holder at 1,500 meters and the mile indoors, and the 1,500 meters, 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters outdoors, and still holds the Kenyan indoor 1,500m record — no small feat for a country that has produced many great distance runners.
Lagat’s achievements are multitudinous. In 2007, he became the first American to win gold in the 1,500m at the World Outdoor Championships and the first American to win an Olympic or world championship in the 1,500 since 1908. He also was the first American man to win the 1,500m/5,000m double at the World Outdoor Championships and the first American to win a 5,000 medal of any kind at Worlds.
Prior to that, he won both the 1,500 and the 5,000 at the U.S. Championships in 2006, becoming the first man to achieve that feat.
The personable native of Kenya is a four-time Olympian — twice for Kenya and twice for the United States. He has been ranked number one in the world and in the United States at various distances throughout his career and won the famed Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games a record eight times, surpassing the previous mark of seven held by the great Eamonn Coghlan.
Lagat will have an extra incentive at the Carlsbad 5000. For the first time, there will be U.S.-only prize money, with $2,500 to the first American finisher, in addition to $5,000 for the overall champion.