Lagat seeks another record at Millrose Games

Updated: February 15, 2013, 3:18 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Bernard Lagat loves the thought of looking at the U.S. record book and seeing his name all in a row.

Indoor 1,500 meters, 1 mile, 3,000 meters, 5,000 meters, 2 miles.

"When you look back in history, when you look at the stats, you're going to look at, `Wow, Bernard Lagat, bam, bam, bam," he said.

Lagat will seek to take care of the one hole on that list Saturday at the 106th Millrose Games.

At the storied indoor track meet last year, he regained the 5,000 mark. But on the same day, Galen Rupp took his record in the 2 miles.

So Lagat will race the 2 miles Saturday at the Armory looking to run faster than 8 minutes, 9.72 seconds.

Rupp, 11½ years Lagat's junior, and other young Americans will likely break his records soon enough. That's not the point.

"I know what I put in to get those times," Lagat said. "So another person comes and destroys those times, that makes me feel, `Well, you know what? That athlete is good. You know what that means? That means the sport in this country is getting better."

For the time being, though, if another runner breaks his record, Lagat may just lower it again. One of these days, the 38-year-old will retire. But after just missing a bronze medal in the 5,000 at last summer's London Olympics, he's talking about the possibility of competing at the 2015 world championships -- at age 40.

"It's mind-boggling to think he's 38 and still running like this," coach James Li said. "We have never seen it in the world anywhere at any time in history."

Mention the 2016 Olympics, though, and Lagat laughs and says, "I don't like to talk about that number." Then again, he isn't definitively ruling it out.

"He keeps pushing that conventional wisdom as to what people think the limit is," Li said. "Honestly, I can't give that prediction."

Lagat credits Li for designing training plans that keep him sharp without wearing him out. The runner makes it sound so easy when he espouses the importance of quality over quantity.

But for people as driven as elite athletes, holding back can be harder than pushing through an extreme workout. Li said Lagat's confidence allows him to keep the faith that more isn't always better.

Lagat has become synonymous with Millrose after winning a record eight titles in its signature event, the Wanamaker Mile. For the second straight year, he's running a different event at the meet to try to set an American indoor record.

Matthew Centrowitz won the Wanamaker in 2012 in Lagat's absence. The 23-year-old American is back to defend his title -- and young enough to one day break Lagat's record of eight victories.

"I'm definitely going to give myself a chance," he said of returning to Millrose year after year as Lagat has.

Other big names in Saturday's meet include Olympic gold medalists Brittney Reese (long jump) and Jenn Suhr (pole vault) and silver medalist Jason Richardson in the 60-meter hurdles.

Lagat will be looking to win his race, of course. He values championships and records in his legacy in their own ways.

"Attaining a certain time in itself is a measure of how good you are," Lagat said, "and a measure of your excellence in the sport that you do."


Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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