Bernard Lagat Has Run His Final Track Race – What an Amazing Career it Was

A track legend is done with the track (but not the roads).

Join Our Supporters Club To Keep Reading Sign up today to get 25% off and a free t-shirt.

September 6, 2016

Proving all good things come to an end, Bernard Lagat ran the final track race of his career on Saturday in Berlin at the ISTAF meet. The 41-year-old Lagat was competitive the entire final last lap before being beaten to the line by Augustine Choge. The ISTAF organizers let Lagat celebrate his career afterwards with the American flag.

(Video below of the end of the race).

Article continues below player

Berlin 3000 m Results
1 Choge , Augustine Kiprono KEN 7:43.00
2 Lagat , Bernard USA 7:43.63
3 Balew , Birhanu BRN 7:44.29
4 Ngetich , Hillary Cheruiyot KEN 7:45.22
5 Bayer , Andrew USA 7:45.24
6 Biyazen , Yeneblo ETH 7:50.67
7 McNeill , David AUS 7:51.11
8 Kemboi , Clement Kimutai KEN 7:54.90
9 Orth , Florian GER 7:55.47
10 Kipsang , Lawrence Kemboi KEN 8:01.43
11 Lancashire , Thomas GBR 8:04.96
Sperlich , Martin GER DNF
Douma , Richard NED DNF
Rono , Vincent Kipsang KEN DNF

Lagat’s track career will be known for its longevity (five Olympic teams) and its greatness.

The only things missing from Lagat’s resume are a world record and an Olympic gold.

Lagat was a collegiate star at Washington State, winning 3 NCAA titles (indoor mile/3000 and outdoor 5000) and he first made his mark internationally for Kenya way back at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, getting the bronze medal at 1500m behind legends Noah Ngeny and Hicham El Guerrouj. Lagat got silver the next year at the World Champs, and also ran 3:26.34 for 1500 (the second fastest ever) but lost to El Guerrouj in both races (video of the 3:26.24 at the end of the article).

Lagat missed the 2003 World Championships after having an “A” sample test positive for EPO, but was cleared when his “B” sample came back negative. He was back on the world stage at the 2004 Olympics where he challenged El Guerrouj to the line, passing him on the final straight only to get repassed and have to settle for the silver medal (video of race at end of article). Lagat had become a US citizen in 2004, but kept it quiet so he could compete in the Olympics for Kenya (Kenya does not recognize dual citizenship), and then had to miss the 2005 World Champs because of the citizenship switch.

Many thought Lagat was now past the prime of his career. Could the 32-year-old Lagat do anything at the 2007 World Championships competing as an American? The answer was most definitely yes, as Lagat, who was only 3rd at the US Champs in the 1500m, beat Rashid Ramzi to win his first World title. Then he came back to win the 5000m and get double gold for the USA.

Lagat, who would win 10 outdoor USATF titles in his career and is the current American record holder at 1500 (3:29.30), 3000 (7:29.00), and 5000 (12:53.60), raised the bar for the Americans he was competing against. If they wanted to be the best in America, they would have to beat one of the best in the world, which Lagat continued to be as he tacked on silver medals at the 2009 and 2011 Worlds in the 5000m (plus a 1500 bronze in 2009) and continued to excel into his 40s.

After Lagat turned 40 at the end of 2014, he totally rewrote the master’s records books from the 1500m to the 10,000m and capped off his USA career with his 10th USATF outdoor title by winning the Olympic Trials 5000m at the age of 41 this past July.

Lagat’s smooth, compact stride also made him a fantastic indoor runner as he claimed three golds and two silvers over 3,000 meters at World Indoors and won a record eight Wanamaker Miles at the Millrose Games.

While may have been asleep at the wheel in recognizing Lagat’s final track race this past weekend, some of the sport’s top stars weren’t. David Rudisha, who shares an agent with Lagat (James Templeton) was in Berlin, signed his bib for Lagat, and tweeted out a farewell to Lagat.

Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and the best 1500m runner on the planet, thanked Lagat for being an inspiration.

Former American 10,000m record holder Chris Solinsky thanked Lagat as well for pushing him to greater heights.

You can discuss Lagat’s career here: Bernard Lagat’s Track Career Has Come to an End- Share Your Respects Here 

Below we have video of some of the highlights of his career. We start with his two global titles in 2007. (It’s interesting to see him side by side with Alan Webb, who is eight years younger than Lagat but retired two years earlier, and Eliud Kipchoge, now the #1 marathoner in the world.)

Lagat Wins 2007 Worlds 1500 Over Ramzi (and Webb)

Lagat Wins 2007 Worlds 5000m over Eliud Kipchoge

Below are highlights from two of Lagat’s greatest races that he didn’t win.

Lagat pushed El Guerrouj to the line at 2004 Olympics
(we have video set to start with 200m to go)

3:26.34 narrow loss to El Guerrouj in 2001 (world record is 3:26.00)

And while Lagat may not run any track races next year, he does intend to compete on the roads and will be running in the Great North CityGames this weekend.

Lagat in 2015

Lagat in 2014

Lagat and Son Miika in 2007 at Millrose

Lagat and Son Miika in 2007 at Millrose

Lagat and Miika in 2015 at Carlsbad

You can discuss Lagat’s career here: Bernard Lagat’s Track Career Has Come to an End- Share Your Respects Here