Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Bernard Lagat and Lornah Kiplagat Recognized for Championship
NEW YORK (December 21, 2007) -- Race Results Weekly, the wire service of distance running, announced today that Bernard Lagat of the United States and Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands have been selected the Race Results Weekly 2007 Runners of the Year. RRW, the most comprehensive global source of middle and long distance running results and news, selected Lagat and Kiplagat for their thrilling gold medal and record-setting performances at the IAAF World Athletics, Cross Country and Road Running Championships this year.
"We debated these choices more than usual because athletes like Kenenisa Bekele and Meseret Defar --the RRW runners of the year last year-- Haile Gebrselassie, Martin Lel and Zersenay Tadese had such spectacular years," said Editor and Publisher, David Monti. "But in the end, it was how Lagat and Kiplagat performed at the major championships which won us over. They didn’t just win; they took big risks and dominated.”
Lagat, 33, became the first man ever to win the 1500 and 5000 meters at the same World Championship. He ran five races over nine days, taking his titles in sprint finishes and breaking a 99-year middle distance gold medal drought for his adopted nation. Not since Mel Sheppard won the Olympic title in London in 1908 has an American man won a world or Olympic 1500m title.
“So many doubted that he could win this double, because his performances leading up to the World Championships were only so-so,” said Assistant Editor Bob Ramsak, pointing out that he only finished third at his own national championship in the 1500 meters, barely making the USA team. “But he and coach James Li had a master plan to peak at Worlds, and they executed it perfectly. He put on an amazing show in Osaka we won’t soon forget.”
Kiplagat’s achievements were altogether different than Lagat’s, but were just as compelling. The 33 year-old athlete returned to the country of her birth last March to contest the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in the brutal heat and humidity of Mombassa, and handily defeated the likes of Tirunesh Dibaba and Meselech Melkamu. Taking the lead from the gun, she won by an improbable 24 seconds.
The Dutchwoman solidified her selection as Runner of the Year with an electrifying performance at the IAAF World Road Running Championships in Udine, Italy, last October. Never content just to win a race, Kiplagat overwhelmed her rivals, setting world records for 20 km (en route,1:02:57) and the half-marathon (1:06:25), gapping the field at the finish line by nearly the same margin as at World Cross Country.
“For me, she sealed the deal with her fantastic performance in Udine, running from the front, and taking down a venerable world record, sans pacesetters,” commented Ramsak. Kiplagat slashed 19 seconds off of Elana Meyer’s previous half-marathon world standard which had stood since 1999.
Kiplagat also won several important invitational road races, including the World’s Best 10-K (where she defeated Defar by over a minute), and the NYRR New York Mini 10-K (where she recorded her fourth title). A calf strain kept her out of the IAAF World Championships in Osaka where she had planned to run the 10,000m.
In determining the Race Results Weekly 2007 Runners of the Year, the editors considered each candidate’s entire competitive record for the year, but ultimately gave the greatest weight to their best and most inspiring performances, especially at major championships when the stakes were highest.