By Christopher Hunt
photos by Tim Fulton
NEW YORK – Bernard Lagat broke the American 2-mile record Saturday night at the New Balance Track and Field Center, a 21-year old mark in 8 minutes, 10.07 seconds.
Lagat claimed his fifth American indoor record by erasing Doug Padilla’s time of 8:15.02 set in 1990, in a showcase race set up for record chases. High school distance phenom Lukas Verzbicas, who went after the high school national record, instead clocked the third-fastest time in American history, 8:43.24.
“I’ve always wanted to run here at the Armory,” said Lagat, who normally does a workout at the Armory each year before he races at the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden. ”I’ve been waiting to race here ever since 2001. It was my dream to race here. So I achieved my dream and broke a record.”
It was the first time Lagat ever raced at the Armory. He had two pace-setters. Virginia sophomore Robby Andrews, the high school indoor national record-holder in the 800 and 1,000, and Russell Brown, who won the men’s mile last week at the Boston Indoor Games in 3:54.81.
Lagat followed for eight laps before he started talking to Brown, asking him to pick up the pace.
“I knew that we were running closer to 31 and I was going to have to pick it up if I wanted to break the record,” Lagat said.
Lagat brought the crowd, filled with college runners, to a roar while he clicked off 30-second laps all alone. He know holds American indoor records in the 1,500, mile, 3,000, 2-mile and 5,000 meters.
“I felt really good,” Lagat said. “The last time I felt this good was at Worlds last year.”
Lagat said he is happy to hold all five American distance records but reminded reporters that Galen Rupp is taking aim at the 5,000-meter record in Birmingham, U.K. next week.
“It’s nice to have four now, because after Rupp runs I might only have four,” he said.
The Oregon-bound Verzbicas, a senior at Carl Sandberg High in Illinois, went through the mile mark, following Columbia grad Liam Boylan-Pett, in 4:14.9. The tempo proved too much for Verzbicas. He fell off Boylan-Pett’s shoulder and had a harder time chasing the record solo. He missed Gerry Lingren’s 46 year-old record of 8:40.0.
“I thought the pace would have been best but I think that next time I won’t go out so fast,” Verzbicas said. “This was a great experience for me but I think next time I’d keep it more even.”
Verzbicas ran in the open mile at the Boston Indoor Games finishing in 4:03.88.
“I just didn’t feel good over the last two laps,” he said. “I kind of felt like I was going to throw up. I don’t know if it’s something I did. Eight-forty-three isn’t 8:40 but I’ll just going to go back to training hard and hopefully do it again.
He plans to run the 5,000 and 2-mile at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in March.
Reach Christopher Hunt at email@example.com.