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Lagat and Mottram Talk About Showdown With Willis and Webb in the Mile Next Weekend in the Big Apple at the Reebok Grand Prix
by: LetsRun.com
May 25, 2007

Listening to Bernard Lagat and Craig Mottram on the teleconference on Thursday afternoon was very entertaining. The two rivals both called in from the high altitude environment of Flagstaff, AZ (the founding home of LetsRun.com)- where the have been training for a number of weeks at altitude.

The two apparently haven't run together or even seen each other in town but claimed they would like to. They spent a good deal of time trying to figure out where the other exactly the lived. Mottram apparently lives out by the golf course, which is exactly where LetsRun.com was founded.

The two rivals got along very well on the call. Mottram said his physical therapist saw Lagat's brother on the golf course a few days ago and Mottram gave  Bernard a hard time about how terrible he heard his brother was playing.  Lagat previously had said on the call he looked forward to seeing Mottram's "vanilla flavor" (a term Mottram used at the 2007 Millrose press conference) in the race.

When the two world class stars weren't having a good time on the call, they had some nuggets of wisdom to say about their preparations for their 2007 Track campaigns (the mile at the Reebok will be both of their 2007 outdoor track debuts).

Mottram, who was beaten by Dathan Ritzenhein two weeks ago at 10k in NYC, said he wasn't troubled by the defeat or worried about his preparations.

"Training's been going great. I'm probably at the same level where I've been this time of year for the last 4 or 5 years . I've got no reason to doubt my fitness. The main goal for me is not until the end of August and I'll be flying then. There is always going to be a few bumps in the road along the way and you just have to iron them out," said Mottram.

"Coming into the race on June 2nd, against Bernard over a mile on June 2nd, I'm pretty confident with my fitness and looking forward to a good challenge. Bernard is obviously one of the best milers in the world. "

Lagat also said he's pleased with the way his preparations have been going for the year, and very much like Mottram, seemed to be totally focused on August and the world championships.  We asked him if he he'd be focused on the 1500 or the 5k and his answer was emphatic.

"My main focus and my only goal is the 1500 - more 1500s than even the mile," said Lagat.  "I want  to try to get a gold meal in the 1500. I know it's getting tougher as I'm getting older. It's not getting easier. I want to make sure I'm training harder than ever before. And I want to focus on one thing rather than two."

American 5k record holder Bob Kennedy can breathe a bit of a sigh of relief as Lagat told us he definitely wouldn't try to break the US 5k record this year.

Lagat was asked if he saw Nick Willis dismantle the 1500 field with ease at the adidas Track Classic last weekend and he said he did and was impressed.

"Honestly, he ran a really fantastic race. He looked really sharp. Normally, at the first meet, you don't see that quickness and sharpness....He seems to be in good form and he runs even more with confidence this time. He looked back and looked like it was easy for him and I think that's a really good indication that he's in good form"

"Having watched that race, I need to work even harder now. It's not only the Kenyans, not only guys like Alan(Webb) or (Chris) Lukezic who are going to give me a threat in the summer. Nick is going to step up and be tough in the 1500."

Willis maybe in good early season form but in talking to Lagat, it's clear he's confident in his current fitness.  "Sometimes you train and train and never really know your shape. With the workouts that I've been able to do, I've been going faster than last year."

"On Monday, I did a really fast tempo run in under 20 minutes and it was really quality work. I didn't feel like I working extra hard," said Lagat.

Lagat summed it up by saying his shape "is where it is supposed be" but that he wants to work on some speed this week and early next week in preparation for his first race, so he'll be living Flagstaff for the low altitude environment of Tucson.

In terms of the race, writers seemed to ask Lagat and Mottram a lot about their strategy. We were pleased that Lagat pointed out what we think is obvious about outdoor meets with pacemakers - there is very little strategy. As he stated it, "Outdoors you just follow the pacemakers. Get in line behind the rabbit and run fast (that's why we don't like seeing rabbits at every single race)."

Lagat said he hopes the race  is like the Prefontaine Classic last year. He said his plan there was to stay with the pacemaker and "kick really hard the last lap." Expect more of the same this year. "My race plan isn't going to be any different from what I've been doing - try to run hard the last part of the race."

Meet director and agent Mark Wetmore revealed the rabbit is supposed to hit :56, 1:54 and hopefully 2:53 (we hope those are 400m splits not 409m, 809m and we hope if anything the rabbit goes 57 instead of 55 as we are so tired of seeing the rabbit go out too hard. At the adidas meet the rabbit was probably a bit slower than they said prior to the race but as a result, you got an exciting race).

Lagat was asked about Steve Scott's American record of 3:48 in the mile and he said "you really have to have a perfect day" to break but hopes that "in the near future, maybe I'll get he opportunity" to do it.  

A reporter tried to get Lagat to state a number as to what he can run in the mile in New York. "I think I can do a mile in 3:53 maybe even faster. I don't want to say 3:50, but you never know, " said Lagat who appeared to purposely not answer the question (we don't blame him).

Mottram was also asked what time he could run. His reply, "I ran 3:54 on a small track (at Millrose) and I think I can run under that but I have no idea. Fast enough to be competitive."

Lastly, we will close our recap of the interview by sticking it to all our Boulder friends. Mottram trained there last year and didn't really like it. He says he really likes Flagstaff and definitely will go back next year.

We agree. Flagstaff rules. (But officially jumped the shark in 2004). Of course, we shouldn't say that as then more people will go there which will ruin the whole appeal of Flagstaff.

Flagstaff is better according to Mottram and us because "the trials are a bit nicer, there are a lot of loops  -you're not always running out and back."

Plus hardly any other runners are in "Flag" so you can train in anonymity.  In Boulder, Mottram said "everybody knows everybody."

*Athletes in the Mile Listed Below
*LetsRun.com Editorial on the Great Men's Mile
*USATF Recap of Lagat/Mottram Teleconference
*Reebok Grand Prix Website

2007 Men's Mile Reebok Grand Prix .
Bernard Lagat
- Olympic silver medallist, seasonal debut. 3:47 mile PR.
Kevin Sullivan - Canada's best. 3:50 miler has run 3:31. 5th at Olympics.
Nick Willis - New Zealand record holder ran 3:35 last week, 2006 Commonwealth Games gold. His 3:32 1500 equates to a 3:49 mile.
Alan Webb
- 3:51 mile at Drake. 3:48 miler.
Craig Mottram - 5k is his main event but he's run 3:48 mile and 2007 outdoor track debut, runnerup in 2007 Millrose mile.
Suleiman Simotwo
- Kenyan ran 3:31.6 last year. Already ran 3:31.9 this year for 2nd in Doha.
Shadrack Korir
- Ran 3:31 last year. Already ran 3:32 this year for 5th in Doha, Qatar.
Nicholas Kemboi
 - only 17 years old. Ran 3:33 last year. Also made Kenya's XC team at 12k (we're assuming it's this Nicholas Kemboi and not the Qatari by the same name)
Rob Myers - 3:36 last weekend at adidas. 3:34 pr.
Chris Lukezic - up and coming American. If it wasn't for Webb, he (or Manzano) would be our young hope.  3:37 last week. 3:54 pr.
Ryan McKenzie
- Canadian ran 3:38.0 last year.
Steve Slattery
- A top American steepler has made 3 world champ teams. Looking for 1st Olympic next year. Ran a 3:56 pr at Reebok meet last year.
Ming Gu -
believe it or not, he's the Chinese national record holder in the mile. Ran 3:39 last week at adidas.


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