Years from now, Bernard Lagat is likely to clearly remember his first major race as an American — the way some people remember a bout...
EUGENE, Ore. — Years from now, Bernard Lagat is likely to clearly remember his first major race as an American — the way some people remember a bout of food poisoning.
Fighting back nausea from a stomach ailment, Lagat struggled to finish yesterday’s Bowerman Mile at the Prefontaine Classic — his first major middle-distance race as an American. But he still finished third, behind Kenyan Alex Kipchirchir and Rachid Ramzi of Bahrain.
Kipchirchir ran 3 minutes, 50.91 seconds, Ramzi 3:51.33. Lagat, a former NCAA champion at WSU and a two-time Olympic medalist in the 1,500-meter “metric mile,” posted a 3:51.53, fading after leading nearly two laps of the race.
But afterward, an exhausted Lagat, 30, said he was happy simply to finish.
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“I was not feeling good today in the warmup,” he said, minutes after vomiting in the warm-down area.
He considered dropping out of the race after the third lap, he said.
“I was feeling so tired. I almost came out. But I don’t believe in that. I knew it [the fourth lap] was not going to be fast. I kept on going as hard as I could, but I knew it was going to be slow.”
In the last 15 meters, “I didn’t have anything left,” he said.
The mile, like nearly every event on the program, was packed with top international athletes. This year’s Prefontaine Classic, held in honor of the Oregon distance-running star killed 30 years ago in a Eugene car crash, was perhaps the most prestigious ever. Competitors had more than 100 world-championship and Olympic medals between them.
Among the highlights:
• In the women’s 800 meters, Maria Mutola, a Mozambique national and longtime Oregon resident, did the improbable yet again — winning her specialty at the Pre for the 13th consecutive year. Mutola held off Marian Burnett of Guyana for the win, her time of 1:59.95 ranking as the fastest time in the world this year.
• In the men’s 400-meter hurdles, Americans Bershawn Jackson and James Carter, running in a field packed with four of the top five hurdlers in the world, turned the event into their own drag race, pulling away from the field in the final 100 meters. Jackson stretched to nip Carter at the tape, his 47.91 finish ranking as the second-fastest time in the world this year.
• In the men’s 400 meters, Jamaica’s Michael Blackwood, a relay silver medalist at the Sydney Games, went out strong and hung on to grab a close win over American LaShawn Merritt and Andrew Rock. Blackwood’s winning time was 45.48
• American women swept a world-class 100-meters field. Athens silver medalist Lauryn Williams got revenge on rival Yuliya Nesterenko of Belarus, the Athens gold medalist making her U.S. track debut. Williams won the race pulling away, finishing at 11.16. LaTasha Colander was second at 11.29; Muna Lee was third at 11:32. Nesterenko faded to seventh.
• In the women’s 100-meter hurdles, Canada’s Perdita Felicien ran a 12.58, second-fastest time in the world this year.
• America’s Alan Webb set a U.S. record in the 2-mile race, finishing second at 8:11.48. The winner was Eliude Kipchoge of Kenya.
wins pole vault
Brad Walker, a 2004 graduate of the University of Washington, won the pole-vault competition with a jump of 19 feet, 4 ¼ inches.
Walker won two NCAA indoor titles with the Huskies.
Toby Stevenson of the U.S. also jumped 19-4 ¼ for second place. American Derek Miles was third at 19-0 ¼.
One celebrated matchup at Hayward Field, however, never really got off the ground.
The track world will have to wait until the August world championships in Helsinki for a true, shoulder-to-shoulder match between Chinese record holder Xiang Lui and American record holder Allen Johnson. Johnson was disqualified for a false start.
Lui somehow managed to maintain enough focus to post a blistering time, 13.06, the fastest in the world this year but short of his world-record time of 12.91 seconds. America Terrence Trammell finished second at 13.12.