Saturday, July 25, 2015

Lagat--Breaks Master's World Record and Becomes first Masters Athlete (40 years +) to break the 4-minute mile

July 25 2015. London, England, United Kingdom. At the Diamond League London track meet today, Bernard Lagat, America's most recent contribution to elite Masters Athletics, broke the Masters (M40+) mile record in 3:57.91, lowering the mark established by Vyacheslav Shivunin in 2010 by almost 4 seconds. And being the first Masters athlete 40 years of age and over to break the 4-minute mile outdoors is certainly an accomplishment to be celebrated.* Roger Bannister was the first person to break the 4-minute mile in 1954. Now, just over 60 years later, a 40 year old Masters athlete has finally matched the feat. Adding to the accomplishment was that it followed by less than 24 hours his excellent near record-breaking run in the 3000 meters. In fact, Lagat's request to be included in the field of the Emsley Carr Mile was not finally approved until the morning before the race. I bet DL London is happy with that decision! It seems fitting that the first Masters athlete [M40+] to break the 4-minute mile outdoors should do it on the same island as Bannister accomplished the initial feat for Open athletes.

Less than 24 hours before, Lagat also smashed the Masters 3000 meter record he set in May in Eugene by nearly 20 seconds. Unfortunately, in between, someone named Bernard Lagat had already lowered it to 7:42.75 in Luzern, Switzerland. That is only 13 seconds off his M35 record! This guy is still flying!
IAAF Diamond League - London
Lagat's 2010 Victory Over Mo Farah in 2010 Diamond League London 3000 Meters [photo from:]
Which is the greater accomplishment? Britain and the USA revere the mile and the mile record is probably more memorable to us; the rest of the world may well be more impressed by the 3000 meter record.

Lagat now has his name on the World Masters Record list for both 35 and 40 for the mile, the 3000 meters, and the 5000 meters. What's up next? Lagat says he is back to training and will not race again until September, that he has his eyes on either the Fifth Avenue Mile on September 13th or another event on the same day. Would that be the IAAF World Challenge Meet in Rieti, Italy? That meet must have fond memories for Lagat as that was the site of his M35 record-setting 3000 meter race. Perhaps Lagat would like to place his name on another world record? If everything with the pacesetters and the other competitors rolls in his favor, he may be able to lower his 1500 meter record that he set on June 7th in Birmingham. At that meet, he lowered Anthony Whiteman's M40+ 1500 meter record of 3:42.02 to 3:41.87. I know it is probably a task too far but maybe if he can keep the fitness he has right now, or even improve, perhaps he could crack the 3:40 barrier?

Or could he move up in distance to the 10,000 meter? We need not wonder because, as of now, there is no 10,000 meter event at Rieti; Lagat will have to take up that challenge another day. He already holds the Masters road record for the distance, having smashed the record of Haile Gebresellassie in the Great Manchester Run in May with a time of 27:48.12. That time suggests he could easily take down the track record, currently held by Martti Vainio of Finland at 28:30.88. It should just be a question of time. I can hardly wait.
* In road racing Masters careers are not considered to start until age 40; Athletics has considered Masters careers to start at age 35. Athletics wants to have one age for all, and sprinters certainly cannot compete with the world's best once they reach age 35. That is clearly not true for the longer track events like 5000 and 10,000 meters where 35 year old runners like Gebresellassie in his day, and Lagat more recently, commanded the wary respect of the best Open athletes when stepping to the starting line of any track event from 1500 meters to 10,000 meters.

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