February 22, 2014
Albuquerque, NM – After the men’s 3,000 at the 2014 US Indoor Championships we had the opportunity to get interviews with champion Bernard Lagat, runner-up Galen Rupp and the unofficial rabbit, Andrew Bumbalough. Our recap of the race which you can read here, was getting fairly long so we thought it’d be worth giving these interviews their own article as they shared some interesting insights.
Lagat Is A Tactical Genius
Watch the first 1:20 of the interview and you’ll see what we mean. We don’t know if anyone out there puts so much thought and strategy into their racing as Lagat describes here. Most would be too tired during the race to think so extensively about the situation, but at no time does Lagat make a move out there without having thought about it first. A lot of great coaching will tell you about “listening to your body”, “running by feel” and running “your own race”. And that is all excellent advice when you’re out there trying to set a PR, but in a tactical race situation where the win (or top 2) is all that matters, you better be paying attention to what the competition is doing.
In his interview, Lagat talks about how he purposely wanted to put himself behind the guys he was worried about coming into the race so that he could watch them and see how they were running. Then towards the end of the end interview he explains how he responded to Rupp’s move with 600m left and how he wanted to wait to the exact right time to take the lead.
Lagat also talks a bit about how he’s killing it at age 39 and how he’s looking forward to defending his title at Worlds in Poland.
Rupp Says He Prefered The Honest Pace, But Admits It Was “Nerve Wracking With A Lap To Go”
If the altercation between Alberto Salazar and Jerry Schumacher was about Schumacher’s guys working together to make the race fast, Rupp didn’t get the memo. Rupp said, “I was happy to see it go out a little bit harder because I know my strength is great right now.” He talks about how his move at 600m to go (which Lagat mentions above) was to try and “keep the race honest” so it doesn’t seem like he wanted it slow and tactical. And that makes complete sense since he’s been trying to break records in time trials all season and dropped out of his only tactical race.
He refers to the race as “hard” and when David Monti comments that it “looked like he was really working” with 150m to go Rupp said, “I was, I was in 3rd place with a lap to go, so I just put my head down and kept driving to the finish … it’s a little nerve-wracking being in 3rd with a lap to go, but I just tried to stay relaxed.” As we said in our preview, it’s not unusual to see Rupp lose to Lagat, but was a bit unusual is the realization that in the end it wasn’t Rupp vs Lagat for the win, but was Rupp vs Hill for the last Worlds spot which Rupp had to work very hard to earn.
We Ask Bumbalough Why He Took Out The First 400m In 60 Seconds???
(Note: Bumbalough’s DQ had not been announced yet at the time of this interview.)
His immediate response was, “The last couple races I haven’t had a finish, I kind of got out-kicked in Boston and in Millrose. I kind of wanted to test myself and see what I could do up front. Unfortunately, I think the altitude played a little bit of a factor today … it definitely kind of bit me the last ‘k’ or so.”
Asked about whether he and his teammates (Ryan Hill and Lopez Lomong) talked strategy before the race with regards to the fast start, Bumbalough said, “We all like an honest pace. Jerry trains us for having the opportunity to enjoy our fitness. A lot of other guys maybe don’t … I don’t know, not to say the top guys don’t train, but we definitely train strength and we like to utilize that.”
If you read some reports on the altercation between Schumacher and Alberto Salazar, it seems that Salazar accused Schumacher of using teamwork against him as Lee Troop said Salazar was screaming at Schumacher, “You’re against us. You’re always after us!”
So was Bumbalough the sacrificial lamb here taking the pace out hard to help his teammates and try and Burn out Rupp? We’ll let the message board conspiracy theorists debate that one, but the fact that everyone knew Rupp was training for records/time trials and the above interview where he says he was happy about the fast pace make it seem less likely that the intention here was to burn Rupp with a fast pace.