This was a full weekend in the world of running but few things can ever equal the setting of new national records. Even fewer can match the breaking of two national records which occurred over the span of a few hours on American soil.
The racing fiends who smashed the American indoor 2 mile and 5k records were the names we have come to expect at such feats – Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat.
The Millrose Games at the Armory were inaugurated with Bernard Lagat chasing after Galen Rupp’s 13:11 indoor 5k American record.
To aid in this venture, Lagat was accompanied by a field unrivaled in talent with the likes of Arizona’s Kenyan duo of Lawi Lalang and Stephen Sambu (both of whom broke the existing collegiate record), national championship aspirants Leonard Korir and Chris Derrick and new high school national record holder Edward Cheserek.
At the end of the quest, Lagat polished off a four second improvement of the old record and proved that his failure to win at the Garden in his old middle distance event of the mile was an aberration.
His step to longer distances was just what was needed to reinvigorate the 37-year-old’s legs which boast the most devastating kick at the distance.
This weekend gave Lagat a fair test of what he will face throughout the year as the field was not filled with pretenders but powerful athletes and other American Olympic hopefuls. What we may take from this is that Lagat is definitively prepared to take on Mo Farah who out-muscled Lagat at Worlds to take the 5000 meter title.
Half way across the country at the Tyson indoor facility, the newly minted indoor 5k record holder Galen Rupp was readying his assault on the two mile record.
The performance he acted out was in honor of recently passed away Nike and Oregon alumni Geoff Hollister whose face adorned the bibs of the athletes. To his tribute, Rupp delivered with a negative split race which brought the American record to a scintillatingly quick 8:09.
Rupp, who said he was doubtful of the splits being fast enough to break the record, threw his entire effort into bringing the record down and was rewarded in his actions.
The last part of the race showed that his speed may not yet be on the level of his primary East African competition but is moving in the right direction. His mile race last week in Boston was a fine sharpening tool for his move to longer events during outdoors.
The trading of records by America’s strongest distance athletes this early in an Olympic year is a sign of excellent fitness and racing quality. These races by Lagat and Rupp should be seen as legitimate by the fact that they had solid competition and responded with poise expected of our nations’ finest.
The fact that Americans can now seek out competition among themselves and be relevant is a change from a time when records were stagnant and seemingly unmovable. Two records being taken out in a matter of hours is positive to the sport and to the athletic community.