Bernard Lagat Outkicks Galen Rupp To Win the Men’s 1500m 5000m

June 23, 2013

Des Moines, IA – The ageless wonder, Bernard Lagat, blew by Galen Rupp the final 100m to win the men’s 5000m final.

On paper this was a 5000m, but it really was a 2 mile warm-up followed by a 1500m race.

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The early splits were pedestrian. Their first two miles were slow. Not just championship racing slow. They were slow for a high school 5000m, much less a professional men’s national championships.

The first 1600m was covered in 5:20, 3200m was reached in 10:22. The entire field of only 9 was obviously still together with Bernard Lagat leading throughout.

Lagat Checks for Rupp Down the Homestretch

Then, Ben True, who was fourth in the 10,000m final on Thursday night, decided enough was enough. He made a strong move to the front on the backstretch and the race was on with 1450 meters to go. With 3 laps left (61.82 for the full lap but that only included about 300 meters of hard running), only Hassan Mead had been dropped.

True continued to lead and he was stalked by the two favorites, global Championship medallists, Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp. A 59.13 next lap did nothing to break up the field.

The penultimate lap was a 58.96 and Chris Solinsky was the first to break. Six guys were still in contention at the bell, as Galen Rupp took the lead followed by Lagat. Rupp and Lagat began to pull away from the field the final 200m as Andrew Bumbalough tried to stay close, followed by True.

Rupp powered onto the final straight with Lagat trying to go wide around him. This is what we we wanted, America’s two best battling over the final 100m.

It was no contest today, as Lagat went by Rupp for the win in 14:54.16 thanks to a 54.22 final lap, with Rupp in second in 14:54.91. Further back, NC State’s Ryan Hill was making a furious charge. Sixth at the bell, last of the guys still in contention, Hill ran the second quickest final lap, 54.57, to push Ben True into fourth place once again.

The first four were definitely better than everyone else today over the final lap as Bumbalough faded to fifth 1.6 seconds behind True.

There was no question today who was best in this 1500m 5000m race. The 38 year old Lagat showed some of the speed that helped him run 3:26.34 for 1500m in 2001.

Lagat’s final 1600m was 3:55.05. The top 6 in this race all ran sub 4:00 the final 1600m. Garrett Heath ran 3:59.51 the final 1600m and that only got him 6th.

Bernard Lagat wins his sixth USA 5000m title at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)

Bernard Lagat wins his sixth USA 5000m title at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly). Click for photo gallery.

Reversal of Last Year’s Olympic Trials for Lagat and Rupp
Last year at the Olympic Trials, Lagat passed Rupp in the final 200m, but it was too much too soon and Rupp came back by him for the win.  This year, Lagat cited two things that helped him change the order. First he said this year, unlike last, he is 100% healthy. Last year he said he had a hip problem that limited his ability to sprint at the end of races. He also talked about how his coach James Li reminded him he often kicked too soon in the 5000m. So today, he said he felt good with 200m to go, but decided to bide his time behind Galen and save his sprint for the final 100m.

Lagat’s immediate plans include a 1500m in Paris on July 6th and then a 5000m in Monaco later in July where he would like to lower his American record.

The soft-spoken Rupp made no excuses after the race on having to come back after winning the 10,000m on Thursday night while Lagat was fresh. Rupp said, “He’s obviously a legend in track and field and he’s always going to be there. I talked to my coaches earlier and I really wanted to challenge myself in a way, so I got a little bit antsy so I wish I would have waited until a little later. I’m not sure if that would have changed anything but we looked at this as a great chance to work on closing hard in fast races because that’s what it’s going to be like most of the summer. It was good, good practice.”

Ryan Hill Surprises Himself
Ryan Hill was the big surprise in 3rd. The NC State star who was second in the NCAA mile indoors, got a late start to his outdoor season after being injured and was only 9th in the NCAA 1500m. Hill admitted he didn’t have a lot of confidence coming into USAs, so he ran the 1500m (going out in the first round) and the 5000m here. Today he remained at the back of the small main pack until the final 400m when he looked more like the miler who got second indoors.  He was still in a state of disbelief when he addressed the media saying, “I honestly don’t even believe it right now. It’s exciting.”

Now Hill needs to improve his 13:26 PR to under the 13:20 qualifying standard if he wants to go to Worlds. Hill went to Europe last year to try and get a “B” standard out of the way and ran his 13:26, under the Olympic “B” standard of 13:28. However, the IAAF lowered it’s standard to 13:20 this year.

Unlucky Loser Ben True
Ben True has had  a tremendous 2013 highlighted by a sixth place at the World Cross Country Championships. He leaves the USA Champs with two fourth place finishes. True made the race on Sunday, but it left him the odd man out. He thought the alternatives would have been worse. “I didn’t want it to come down to a hard sprint because I had the 10k on my legs,” he said.

Tyson Gay (1st in 100 & 200) and Galen Rupp (1st 10k, 2nd here) were the only athletes on the men’s side to finish in the top three in two events. Ben True almost did it, but finished in the worst position twice.

Andrew Bumbalough had been in Ben True’s 4th place spot the the last two years in the 5000m. This year he slipped back one spot to 5th and said he is disappointed in coming up just short of the podium. Bumbalough got to go to Worlds in 2011, and True will go this year if Hill does not run under 13:20.

Quick Takes:
QT#1: 5:20 for the 1600m is so ridiculously slow. That’s slower than the women’s world record pace in the marathon. The slow pace paved the way for Hill, but it did nothing to deter Rupp and Lagat who showed us why they were the favorites in this field. This type of race doesn’t do too much to show us how they’ll do at Worlds as this was a field top runners should beat.

QT#2: Why Did Lopez Lomong Run the 1500? American indoor record holder at 5000m Lopez Lomong was 3rd in 1500m on Saturday. He said his hamstring was bothering him before the meet and over the last lap on Saturday, but that he would be running the 5000m Sunday as he enjoys the 5000m more than the 1500m. Yet Lopez ended up scratching. If he enjoys the 5000 more than the 1500 and his medal chances are better at 5000 why waste the time running the 1500 on a bad hamstring?  Either Lopez wanted to win both the 1500 and 5000 and make a statement that he is the top dog in American distance running and didn’t think his hamstring problem was too bad, because it seems almost foolish to run the 1500m on a less than 100% leg when he thinks the 5000 is his best event.

QT#3: What could Will Leer have done in this field? Leer has been running great all year at 1500 and 5000 and as Hill showed, this was the perfect race for a 1500 guy. The 1500m yesterday was in extreme heat and Leer afterwards said you couldn’t pay him enough to run the 5000m today in the heat. It then rained overnight and there was some cloud cover so the temperature (low 80s) was much more bearable than the 90s the day before with a strong sun. Yet Leer was nowhere to be seen in the field. We wonder if he was kicking himself after seeing the race go out in 10:22.

QT#4: Nine Guys in a 5000 is ridiculous. After scratches, this field got reduced to 9 starters. There were many guys on hand, like Wisconsin’s Maverick Darling, ready to run, but they weren’t given the chance because USATF wouldn’t let them in the meet even though they had provisionally qualified. Wisconsin coach Mick Byrne organized an impromptu press conference to complain about the opportunity denied to Darling and others, and the mixed messages conveyed by USATF officials, who he said indicated more athletes would be allowed to run if there were scratches.  Mick was blunt in his criticism, “Someone in USA Track and Field is not doing their job, it’s that simple.” The lack of clear cut qualifying rules is a common theme at US Championships because the rules essentially say there are no rules. USATF Communications Director emailed, “The scratches in the men’s 5,000m final came after the declarations process. The field is at the discretion of the men’s track & field chair.” In other words, the men’s track and field chair can do whatever he or she wants. It’s time to change the rules. Of course that was true five years ago and yet nothing has changed.

As we’ve pointed out on the messageboard, the big other pro individual sports (tennis/golf) have alternates. If someone withdraws, you fill the field with an alternate. Even major league baseball works similarly. If someone gets sent down, someone gets called up.

Rank Athlete Lap Split Cum Split Movement
1 Bernard Lagat
54.22 14:54.16 +1
2 Galen Rupp
55.15 14:54.91 -1
3 Ryan Hill
54.57 14:55.16 +3
4 Benjamin True
55.36 14:55.61
5 Andrew Bumbalough
57.04 14:57.12 -2
6 Garrett Heath
58.48 14:58.85 -1
7 Elliott Heath
1:01.08 15:02.07
8 Chris Solinsky
1:05.42 15:09.47
9 Hassan Mead
Nike / Oregon TC Elite
1:04.08 15:11.76
DNS Daniel Huling
DNS Dathan Ritzenhein
DNS Lopez Lomong
DNS William Leer
DNS Evan Jager
DNS George Alex
DNS Robert Curtis
Hansons-Brooks Distance Projec
DNS Chris Derrick
DNS Jeff See

USATF Sunday: (2013 USATF Photo Gallery)
Mens 800Duane Solomon Goes Wire-To-Wire To Run World-Leading 1:43.27 To Stop Nick Symmonds’ Streak Of US Titles At Five 
Women’s 800: Alysia Montano Wins Her 5th Straight National Title, Holding Off A Fast-Closing Brenda Martinez 
Men’s 5,000: Bernard Lagat Outkicks Galen Rupp To Win The Men’s 1,500m 5,000m
Women’s 5,000: Jenny Simpson Gets The Win In Her First 5k In Two Years Over American Record Holder Molly Huddle, As Rowbury Guts It Out for 3rd
Steeple Evan Jager And Dan Huling Go 1-2 In Steeple For Team Schumacher
Men: Tyson Gay’s World-Leading 19.74 Caps Final Day As Aries Merritt Makes Hurdles Team
Women: Kimberly Duncan Upsets Allyson Felix In 200m At USAs 

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