Bernard Lagat, a two-time Olympic medalist at 1500 meters, will make his 13.1-mile debut at the NYC Half on March 17, New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg announced today.
“I’m excited to be running a half-marathon,” said Lagat, 38, who re-claimed his U.S. indoor two-mile record at Saturday’s Millrose Games with his winning time of 8:09.49. “It’s a big step up in distance, but I think I’ll be well prepared. Of course, there’s a bit of uncertainty—‘can I cope with the distance?’—but that makes it exciting; the challenge is what really appeals to me.”
NYRR’s flagship half-marathon, in its eighth running, will air live locally on WABC-TV from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. It will also stream live on ESPN3. NYRR’s On the Run will air on www.nyrr.org at 8:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, and then on Sunday night, March 17, with a post-race recap.
In 2012, the race had 15,344 finishers. It will again offer a prize purse of $100,000, the largest half-marathon purse in the country. The men’s and women’s champions will each receive $20,000.
The longest races so far in Lagat’s career were 10K cross-country events while he competed for Washington State University from 1996-1999. He has never seriously raced longer than a mile on the roads, although he has run a 7.5K road race in Germany, his summer training base. He is, however, no stranger to NYC, having won the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games a record eight times and the NYRR’s Fifth Avenue Mile in 2011.
“New York has been a great city for me for more than a decade,” said Lagat. “I’m proud of all those Wanamaker Mile wins, the record, running the Fifth Avenue Mile, and finally winning there in 2011. I’m really looking forward to the half-marathon next month; I’ve been planning for it during all my training this season.”
In addition to his two Olympic medals at 1500 meters—bronze in 2000 and silver in 2004—Lagat notched a historic double in 2007 when he became the only man in history to win world titles at both 1500 and 5000 meters at the same World Championships. Also a three-time World Indoor Champion, he holds five U.S. indoor records: 1500 meters, the mile, 3000 meters, two-mile, and 5000 meters.
“We are simply thrilled to host Bernard Lagat, one of the greatest runners our sport has ever seen, in his debut at the half-marathon distance,” said Wittenberg. “Bernard already has a storied history in New York City, where he has many times inspired as he dominated at the Wanamaker Miles and patiently raced year after year until he captured his Fifth Avenue Mile crown.”
The NYC Half will offer runners a spectacular 13.1 mile tour of Manhattan as they race through Central Park, Times Square, the Hudson River waterfront, and ending in lower Manhattan. This year’s race theme “More than a Run,” offers runners, friends, family, and fans a variety of programs and events designed to support local business and help give back to New York City.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg