While we were paying our respects to the laborer this weekend, Bernard Lagat may have run his last race at the oval office. Lagat said the 3K at ISTAF Berlin was his final track race, and now, he will turn his focus to the roads. While he might have good reason to change his mind--the 41-year-old won the Olympic Trials 5K this year and only got stronger as the season went on--this could be the end of one of the most robust track careers ever.
Lagat didn't break a world record or win gold at the Olympics. But he did everything else. He's the Kenyan and American record holder at 1500m, and the American record holder at 3000m and 5000m. He has eight world championship and Olympic medals--two gold--spanning 11 years and two countries.
The second-best way to appreciate Lagat is to understand the ridiculous degree to which he outran and outlasted his peers in East Africa and the United States.
-When Lagat announced his citizenship change from Kenyan to American in 2005, many speculated he switched because it was much easier to make American teams than Kenyan teams. Eleven years later, the 41-year-old Lagat made the Olympic 5K final; no Kenyan runners did.
-Asbel Kiprop has been the best 1500m runner on the planet for nearly a decade. He's never once run as fast as Lagat's 3:26.34 PR.
-Galen Rupp changed the game in American long-distance running by breaking the American 10K record and winning two Olympic medals. He was 5-22 against Lagat.
-Alan Webb revolutionized American middle-distance running by lowering the American mile record to 3:46 and winning a Diamond League 1500m when that was unthinkable for an American man. He was 5-15 against Lagat and retired in 2014--when Lagat was 39.
-Before Lagat turned 40, the masters world records in the 5K and 10K were 13:43 and 28:30. He's run 13:06 and 27:49.
The best ways to appreciate Lagat are watching him race and listening to him talk. Here are two book-ended races 12 years apart, plus a lot more.
2004 Athens Olympic 1500m final
Here, Lagat and Hicham El Guerrouj famously ran their first 700m in 1:47 and their last 800m in 1:46. The 2004 YouTube video quality is more than a bit grainy, but it's perhaps the greatest middle-distance track race of all time.
2016 U.S. Olympic Trials 5K final12 years later, Lagat's career looked to be nearly over. He dropped out of the Trials 10K a week before, and dropped out of the Prefontaine Classic 5K a month before. Then, at Hayward Field, Lagat ran down Rupp and kicked past the frontrunners for his 10th, and maybe final, USATF track title.
THROUGH THE YEARS IN PHOTOS[album albumId="450252"]
THROUGH THE YEARS IN VIDEOS
Bernard Lagat All-Access
DRIVEN: Bernard Lagat (Trailer)
Bernard Lagat, one of the best runners in the history of the sport, opened his doors so the FloTrack community could learn how the ageless wonder makes the magic happen.
DRIVEN: Bernard Lagat | Training With The Fastest American of All-Time (Ep.1)
DRIVEN: Bernard Lagat | 4 Mile Clib, 3 Years To Go (Ep.2)
DRIVEN: Bernard Lagat (Bonus Clip)
Bernard Lagat Workout
Workout Wednesday: Bernard Lagat with 2011 World Championships in mind
Workout Wednesday: Lagat, Chelanga, Sambu and Abdirahman 400m repeats
Bernard Lagat Interviews
Bernard Lagat after 2007 World Championships prelims:
Bernard Lagat wins his first medal for the United States of America:
Lagat at 2008 Nike Cross Nationals:
Bernard Lagat after the winning the 2009 Millrose Games Wanamaker Mile:
Bernard Lagat discusses Kenyan training and racing, and how his style has resulted in a long career:
Bernard Lagat with doubts as US 5K Champ at USA Outdoor Championships in 2011:
Bernard Lagat's most memorable championship medals:
Bernard Lagat defends his world 3K title at Istanbul in 2012:
Bernard Lagat's thoughts on Galen Rupp and American records:
Bernard Lagat gets masters world record in the mile at Sainsbury's Anniversary Games in 2015:
Bernard Lagat says 2016 Olympic Trials 5K title is most rewarding championship of his career:
Bernard Lagat Race Videos
El Geurouj vs. Bernard Lagat in Brussels, both go 3:26 -- circa 2007:
Bernard Lagat easily qualifies for the 2007 World Championships:
The men's two-mile at the 2011 Prefontaine Classic:
The ageless wonder, Bernard Lagat, sets a new masters world record in his 10K debut:
BONUS Bernard Lagat
Bernard Lagat tries out for a job at FloTrack:
Coach James Li on Bernard Lagat:
Bernard Lagat takes a victory lap at the 2012 Millrose Games:
Old-man Lagat still got it -- Run Junkie at the 2016 Olympic Trials: