By Chris Lotsbom
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(19-Feb) — Moments ago, the New York Road Runners announced that five-time World Champion and newly crowned indoor two-mile American record holder Bernard Lagat will make his half-marathon debut at the NYC Half on March 17. The 21.1-kilometer race will be the longest of Lagat’s storied career.
“I’m excited to be running a half-marathon,” said Lagat, 38, in a statement from race organizers. “It’s a big step up in distance, but I think I’ll be well prepared. Of course, there’s a bit of uncertainty, but that makes it exciting.”
Lagat has seen tremendous success in the Big Apple, with eight Wanamaker Mile wins at the Millrose Games, a victory in the 2011 Fifth Avenue Mile, and American record performances indoors at two miles and 5000m.
“New York has been a great city for me for more than a decade,” Lagat continued. “I’m really looking forward to the half-marathon next month; I’ve been planning for it during all my training this season.”
The NYC Half will be a large jump in distance for Lagat, who has been training in Tucson, Ariz., with his longtime coach James Li. Following the Millrose Games last Saturday, Lagat told the press that he had been doing a lot of tempo runs in his training. He told reporters today in New York at a press conference that his long run was up to 14 miles, and his weekly mileage to 72 miles, higher than his normal 60. Lagat said that he was inspired by Mo Farah’s and Galen Rupp’s half-marathon debuts at the NYC Half, a race he said he watched online.
“My expectation is high,” Lagat said. “I want to do my best. I just don’t want to show up.”
Lagat has limited experience in road racing, except for road miles. He’s run the Fifth Avenue Mile five times, winning in 2011 and finishing second in 2008, 2010 and 2012. His longest road race was the 7.5-kilometer Tübinger Stadtlauf in Germany where he finished second in 2011 (Lagat maintains a home in Tübingen which he uses as his European base for the track season). Lagat said today that he is committed to returning to the track after his half-marathon to focus on winning a medal at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in August at 5000m.
Not surprisingly, the New York Road Runners are happy to have secured Lagat for what is one of their marquis events.
“We are simply thrilled to host Bernard Lagat, one of the greatest runners our sport has ever seen, in his debut at the half-marathon distance,” said NYRR President and CEO Mary Wittenberg. “Bernard already has a storied history in New York City; he’s inspired us with his dominance at the Wanamaker Mile and his perseverance at the Fifth Avenue Mile, racing year after year until he finally captured the crown. If he can win the NYC Half, he’ll be the first winner of the Fifth Avenue Mile, the Wanamaker Mile and the NYC Half, a trifecta that would be just another indication of Bernard’s talents and range.”