The last time he was in Brussels, Galen Rupp set the American 10k record. Two years later, he's back in at the King Baudouin Stadium and wants another American record -- this time in the 5k.
According to Jon Mulkeen, the Memorial van Damme meeting director announced earlier today at a press conference that the target pace for the race would be sub-12:50. He also added that coach Alberto Salazar has indicated that Rupp is ready to be up front.
The target pace for men's 5000m in Brussels is sub-12:50. Salazar says Rupp is in form to run that fast and break the US record.
As we pointed out in our preview, this race has something for everyone. If you love watching the grudge match between the Kenyans and Ethiopians (plus one former Kenyan who now runs for Bahrain), then watch up front. If you want to watch USA's best distance runners duke it out for top honors, then they'll be mixed in the pack as well. Heck, some of them won't just be fighting for TTWGA (The Top White Guy Award) award.
LetsRun.com labeled this affair as "An American Fans Dream Race." For maybe the first time ever the American record holders at the 1500m, indoor mile, indoor 3000m, indoor two mile, 3000m steeplechase, indoor 5000m, outdoor 5000m, and 10,000m will be in the same race. There are some double dippers (some even quintuple dippers), but Bernard Lagat, Galen Rupp, and Evan Jager will all be there.
We'll predict the order of the Americans tomorrow morning, but for now, we ask if Rupp can take another record away from Lagat?
We debated this exact question back in July when the two squared off in the Monaco Diamond League 5k. The difference was that it was Lagat who had publically acknowledged that he was shooting for the 12:53.6 record. This time, it's Rupp.
Though the roles are reversed, we think that a similar result will be produced - no American record.
The only caveat is now-scientifically proven Belgium magic. We've seen what can happen in Oordegem and Heusden. Everyone who makes the trip across the Atlantic Ocean to this little Northern European country seems to come back with some silly fast new personal best.
We did some research and apparently, the "Belgium Meter" is actually 90cm as opposed to the universally accepted 100cm (Disclaimer: This is a joke).
Though we can't explain why some athletes run so fast in Belgium, maybe the answer is that we don't need an answer. It's magic… or late season fitness where athletes are feeling fresh after just passing their peak.
For that, we actually do have some evidence to support the "magic" argument. Two years ago in Brussels, Rupp ran 26:48.00 to set the American 10k record. This came a few weeks after running 27:26.84 at the World Championships, which was good for seventh.
Jager has also showcased some of that late season fitness. Last summer after the Olympics, Jager popped a 7:35.16 3k in Stockholm. It's no prophecy, but 12:51 man (who is also in this race) Albert Rop just ran 7:35.53 to take second in Zagreb. Those two aren't even close to being comparative marks, but it's a nice little coincidence.
Other than these post-Championship examples, there no logical explanation for why the American record should go down. Rupp has run well outdoors, but not exceptionally well.
If he can rekindle his end of the season form from the indoor season that saw him become the fifth fastest indoor miler in history and run the American 3000m indoor record, then Lagat's mark will be in serious jeopardy.