CARLSBAD, Calif. – If you’re looking for a record-breaking performance, then Bernard Lagat is your man and the Carlsbad 5000 is your race.
The 39-year-old Lagat, one of the world’s all-time great distance runners, will be making his Carlsbad debut on Sunday, March 30 and his goal is to try and break the American record of 13 minutes, 24 seconds set by San Diego native Marc Davis in 1996.
“I’m happy to finally make it to the start line of the Carlsbad 5000,” Lagat said. “It’s been on my radar for some time, but we just never managed to get there to toe the line. It’s a truly iconic U.S. road race with a great history of world records with many of the finest athletes of all time adding their names to the list of champions. I’m looking forward to racing on the west coast after what I hope is a successful defense of my world indoor title over 3000 meters.”
Lagat knows what he speaks of regarding world records. Since the inaugural edition of the race in 1986, the Carlsbad 5000 has produced 16 world records, including the all-time best of 13:00 by Kenya’s Sammy Kipketer in 2000, a mark he matched in 2001. It also has been the scene of eight U.S. records and 11 world wheelchair records.
There’s no doubt that Lagat is in shape to attack Davis’ mark. He is coming off his third consecutive national record at the NYRR Millrose Games in New York, setting the 2,000-meter mark of 4:54.74 last weekend. Ironically, the record of 4:58.6 he smashed belonged to Steve Scott, and it was Scott who set the first world record (13:32) at the inaugural Carlsbad 5000 in 1986.
“All of us at Competitor Group are thrilled that Bernard will finally be running the Carlsbad 5000 this year,” said Tracy Sundlun, SVP of Competitor Group, Inc. “He is one of the world’s best athletes and an even better person. Running fans in Southern California are going to be in for a real treat.”
Lagat, a 10-time medalist in the Olympics and IAAF World Championships, including five golds, is also the American record-holder at 1500 meters and the mile indoors, and the 1500 meters, 3000 meters and 5000 meters outdoors, and still holds the Kenyan indoor 1500m record — no small feat for a country that has produced many great distance runners.
Lagat’s achievements are multitudinous. In 2007, he became the first American man to win gold in the 1500m at the World Outdoor Championships and also the first American man to win an Olympic or World Championship in the 1500 since 1908. He also was the first American man to win the 1500m/5000m double at the World Outdoor Championships and the first American to win a 5,000 medal of any kind at Worlds.
Prior to that, he won both the 1500 and the 5000 at the USA Championships in 2006, becoming the first man to achieve that feat.
The personable native of Kenya and Washington State University Graduate is a four-time Olympian — twice for Kenya and twice for the United States. He has been ranked number one in the world and in the United States
at various distances throughout his career and won the famed Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games a record eight times, surpassing the previous mark of seven held by the great Eamonn Coghlan.
Lagat will have an extra incentive at the Carlsbad 5000. For the first time, there will be U.S.-only prize money, with $2500 to the first American finisher, in addition to $5000 for the overall Carlsbad champion and a $5000 U.S. record bonus.
Organized by Competitor Group, Inc., the 29th running of the Carlsbad 5000 will take place on Sunday, March 30, 2014. Known as the ‘World’s Fastest 5K’, the event is home of the current world 5K road records of 13:00, Sammy Kipketer (KEN), 2000 & 2001, and 14:46, Meseret Defar (ETH), 2006; as well as the current American records 13:36, Marc Davis, 1996, and 14:54, Deena Kastor, 2002. It is the only road race from a commonly run distance in the world that is home to the world records and its home country records for both genders.
Race day begins at 7:05am with the Masters Men 40 and over, the first of several age group races that take place throughout the morning. The ‘Party by the Sea’ gets started as soon as the first racers cross the finish line. After enjoying the scenic 3.1-mile course, runners age 21 and over can step into the beer garden, sip two free Pizza Port brews and then rock out to a live band.
Race weekend kicks off with a pre-registration party on Friday, March 28 for the Junior Carlsbad hosted at the Carlsbad Village Faire. On Saturday, March 29 more than 2,500 junior racers, age 12 and under, will take part in one of the eleven age group races. All runners receive a t-shirt and finisher’s medal for their efforts. Awards will be presented to the top junior athletes ages five through twelve.