Bernard Lagat, At Age 39, Wins His Seventh USA Men’s 5,000 Title – Two Quick Thoughts + Lots Of Post-Race Talk

June 27, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — 39-year-old Bernard Lagat bided his time but in the end, after taking the lead with just over 100 meters remaining, he did what he almost always does in a USA 5000 final – win.

Lagat used a 54.76 last lap (26 mid last 200) to win his seventh USATF outdoor 5000 final in 13:31.41.

Oregon-based runners went two through four. 2011 world championship team member Andrew Bumbalough, who made a move for glory with 600 meters to go (penultimate lap was 60.82), was second in 13:32.01 and 13:02 man Hassan Mead held off 2013 Worlds team member Ryan Hill, who tried to sneak into third on the inside as Mead ran 13:32.42 to Hill’s 13:32.82. David Torrence, who surprisingly failed to make the 1500 final yesterday, got a little redemption today by finishing a creditable fifth in 13:34.95 as a late addition to the field, just .01 ahead of Oregon’s Trevor Dunbar.

We give you our two main post-race thoughts before sharing with you the highlights of our many post-race interviews. Full results appear at the bottom of this article.

Bernard Lagat wins again Bernard Lagat wins again

1. Bernard Lagat Just Won A US 5000 Title at Age 39

Does he get enough credit for being so good at such an advanced age? We don’t think so.

2. Galen Rupp wasn’t in this race, but in at least two ways he was.

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After Galen Rupp won a record 6th US 10,000 title last night, he opted not to run the 5000 today, but after this one was over, we couldn’t help but think of Rupp for two reasons.

i) Lagat was very patient tonight in taking the lead. He didn’t take it until almost exactly 100 meters remained. Often in distance races, you’ll see the person in second get anxious and take it sooner. It happened both last night in the women’s 10,000 and tonight in the women’s 5000 and in both cases, the person who went to the lead ended up losing it.

Lagat learned not to do that – the hard way. The one time Lagat has lost to Rupp in a 5000, it came at the 2012 US Olympic Trials when Lagat took the lead with 150 to go and Rupp came back on him.

Lagat waited very late Lagat waited very late

Tonight, Lagat said his focus was to stay out of trouble and be in position to move when he wanted to. His coach James Li told him to be patient and wait until the very end to make his move. There would be no home-stretch drama like there was in 2012 or in the women’s races — once Lagat took off, it was clear that his seventh U.S. title at 5000 was in the bag.

ii) The 39-year old Bernard Lagat managed to find a small way to upstage his long-time rival Rupp whom he’s ruled in the 5000 over the years in one small way. This was Lagat’s 7th US 5000 title as compared to Rupp’s six 10,000 titles.

That being said, Lagat likely would have had to close faster to win this one if Rupp was in it. When Rupp won in 2012 over Lagat, Rupp closed in 52.54 in a 13:22 race.

On to the post-race interviews.

Lagat said he needed some more races after his disappointing 14th-place effort in the Pre Classic 5,000.

Lagat loves to race at Pre and said that he felt bad that he performed so poorly there. He went to Europe to prepare for USAs and after running 7:41 for 3,000 in Hengelo on June 8 and 7:38 in Ostrava nine days later, he felt confident about his chances at USAs.

He said that he’d been training extremely well before Pre but that was his first race for two months and that his body felt bad going so long without a race. Hence the decision to head to Europe ahead of USAs.

Lagat said it was “a pity” that he didn’t get to race Galen Rupp but that he was glad the fans got to see Rupp run a great race in the 10,000.

“Galen Rupp is a remarkable athlete,” Lagat said. “I love the way he runs and he’s a good friend of mine.”

The compliments Lagat has for Rupp are nice, but we 100% agree with Lagat on this one.

Rupp certainly deserves a lot of credit for showing up and running at USAs when so many other athletes have scratched or skipped the meet entirely, but what the fans really wanted was a Lagat-Rupp showdown in the 5000 and they were denied that in Sacramento. It was indeed a pity: MB: Is Rupp Really Going to Skip the Nationals 5K? –

When people wonder why track and field isn’t more popular, the lack of meaningful head to head match-ups is at the top of the list. Tirunesh Dibaba wins the 10,000; Meseret Defar wins the 5000. Rupp wins the 10,000; Lagat the 5000.

Rupp and Lagat deserve credit for both running nationals.

Andrew Bumbalough is confident and that’s why he tried to break the field with 600 to go.

In the past, Bumbalough said he’d relied on traditional sit-and-kick tactics but since there was no team to make this year, he decided to take the lead earlier. He said that talking to Wisconsin guys like Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegenkamp, who have traditionally eschewed the sit-and-kick, convinced him that he should take more risks in races. Bumbalough was pleased with the second-place finish and said that since moving from further out worked this time he might be more open to it in the future.

Bumbalough said that Lagat might have been more vulnerable than usual after Pre this year but knew Lagat is always prepared to race at USAs. Bumbalough himself had been “in a funk” in March and April because his stride was messed up from a glute injury. But he had a good month of training in May and felt good pacing the 5,000 at Pre, which set him up well for his 13:13 5k in Oslo and a nice race here at USAs.

“Consistency, I guess that’s the word I’m looking for going forward.”

On his still-standing DQ from U.S. indoors, Bumbalough said he still hasn’t heard back from USATF (an announcement was promised by the end of June) and wanted to let this interview serve as a PSA that he’s leaving Sacramento on Saturday if USATF still wanted to talk to him.

“It’s disappointing,” Bumbalough said. “I kind of expect more out of my governing body. I believe in USATF. The athletes are getting better…and you just hope that your governing body tries to back that up and to showcase that. Consistency, I guess that’s the word I’m looking for going forward.”

Bumbalough said he will try and run some 5,000s in Europe over the next few months, possibly including the Glasgow Diamond League meet on July 11.

Hassan Mead came in going for the win, but was happy with his 3rd-place finish.

Talking about taking over the lead partway through, he said he felt very comfortable and knew the pace wasn’t that fast and wanted to make it more of a fair race and get some guys to drop off. With a slower pace he expected there to still be a lot of people there so was ready for it and knew the last 300 or 400 meters would be really fast. He had a lot of confidence coming in knowing he has a 13:02 under his belt and even though he didn’t get a win he was happy with the way he ran and a 3rd-place finish.

Coming up he has some European races and we asked if he’d be chasing that sub-13, but he said he wouldn’t necessarily just be chasing that. He wants to get in some good international races and compete well knowing that with the right day and right conditions a sub-13 time will come.

Ryan Hill wasn’t thrilled with his race saying he doesn’t feel really good in races and isn’t really feeling that “pop.” “I’m just struggling right now.”

Hill said that coming in he thought he was turning the corner in training, but just didn’t have it here. He said that there were a few times during the race when he would look ahead and say to himself, “that’s where I need to be right now,” but just felt like the move to get there would cost him the race. He came from pretty far back with just over a lap to go to get 4th so we asked him if he had more left than he thought, but he said, “I really wanted to leave here today finishing well because I haven’t done that in a long time. Probably since middle of indoors I haven’t had a good kick. So I was really conservative and just wanted a good kick, which is not the type of strategy you want to use to win, but I’m just struggling right now.”

Asked why he might be in this rut right now he said if he had to give one reason it might be from training too hard and doing too much during indoors which is costing him now. He was in great shape during indoors, but is dragging now and outdoors is just getting started. Hill thinks he might need to back off and recoup before moving forward with the rest of the season and due to that, he said his racing schedule for the summer is very flexible right now.

Great Interview: David Torrence was “searching for answers” after not making the 1500 final yesterday and when he couldn’t come up with anything decided he need to look forward and the 5000 was the only thing left.

Torrence admitted that he thought it was “a complete hail mary” trying to petition to get in late as he knew USATF had been strict in previous years and even last year he was rejected from the 5000. But after he sent an email explaining his situation he got a call 2-hours later saying he was in and he was “completely overjoyed”.

Talking about the race today he said, “I ran this race off pure emotion. There was definitely no training geared towards the 5000 for even the last 3 months. If anything, my training was more focused on the 800. But I couldn’t walk away like that, feeling the way I did. I just had to come out here and run hard and give it my all.”

Even with all that he still was a little disappointed with his 5th-place finish saying he wanted top 3, but they didn’t make it a “true sit-and-kick” race as he felt like they were pushing it a bit early. However, given the 1500 yesterday and his lack of preparation he could still “walk away with 5th place holding my head high”.

We asked Torrence if it felt a bit odd that he was here at USAs petitioning to do two events while others skipped the championships altogether not even racing once. Torrence responded:

“It’s hilarious seeing everyone drop out of these races and I’m trying to get in. I don’t know what to say about that. Some people see the US Champs as something, in an off year at least, as something they don’t want to be part of. But for me personally … I was going to show up. Because a chance at a US title is something no one can take away from you and that’s what I was really going for.”

Trevor Dunbar was pleased to end his collegiate career on a high note.

This was the final race in an Oregon singlet for Dunbar and said he wanted to go out with a good race after failing to make the final in the 1500. Dunbar expected to be in the 1500 final but remained confident in his fitness after training with guys like Parker Stinson, Edward Cheserek, Mac Fleet and Eric Jenkins. Now it’s a pro career for Dunbar, which will begin with a race in Ireland.

Results Below. Lap-by-Lap Splits here.

Place Athlete Time
1 Bernard Lagat
2 Andrew Bumbalough
Nike / Bowerman Track Club
3 Hassan Mead
Nike / Oregon TC Elite
4 Ryan Hill
Nike / Bowerman Track Club
5 David Torrence
6 Trevor Dunbar
7 Joe Bosshard
8 Jonathan Peterson
Team USA Minnesota
9 Tyler Pennel
Reebok / ZAP Fitness Reebok
10 Eric Finan
Team USA Minnesota
11 Joe Stilin
ZAP Fitness Reebok
12 Daniel Quigley
Nike / Oregon TC Elite
13 Brendan Gregg
Hansons-Brooks Distance Projec
14 Scott Dahlberg
Boulder Running Company/adidas
15 Sean Keveren
16 Lex Williams
DNF Erik Olson

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