Three-time American record-holder Bernard Lagat and Australian Craig Mottram, who holds six national records, will headline the Wanamaker Mile at 100th Millrose Games to be held at Madison Square Gardens on 2-February.
Lagat, a two-time Olympic 1.500m medalist and reigning USA 1.500m and 5.000m champion, set the American indoor mile (3.49,89) and 1.500m (3.33,34) records at the Powered by Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA two years ago.
Lagat set his third American record, outdoors at 1.500m, with a time of 3 minutes 29,30 seconds at the 2005 Rieiti Grand Prix.
Lagat also owns the second-fastest American outdoor mile (3.48,38) and 5.000m (12.59,22) times recorded.
Steve Scott (3.47,69 - Oslo, 1982) and Bob Kennedy (12.58,21 - Zürich, 1996) hold the American mile and 5.000m records, respectively. Scott (3.51,8/1981) and Jeff Atkinson (3.38,12/1989) held the previous mile and 1.500m American indoor records.
Lagat has personal bests of 3.26,34 at 1.500m and 3.47,28 in the mile - times recorded prior to becoming an American citizen in 2004.
Lagat, seen above holding the 2005 Wanamaker Mile trophy (photo courtesy of Trackshark.com), will be seeking his fifth Wanamaker Mile victory, having won the 2005 edition in 3.56,85 in defeating Kenenisa Bekele, who was making his debut at the shorter distance.
If Lagat successfully defends his title, he will tie Irishman Marcus O’Sullivan for the third-most victories on the all-time Wanamaker Mile list, behind only Eamonn Coghlan (seven) and Glenn Cunningham (six). O'Sullivan holds the record for most sub-4 times recorded in the Wanamaker Mile, topping the list at 11.
Coghlan, who was the first man to break 3.50 indoors, running 3.49,78 in 1983 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, USA - the fastest time ever recorded in the United States - won seven Wanamaker Mile titles (4.00,2 in 1977; 3.55,0 in 1979; 3.58,2 in 1980; 3.53,0 in 1981; 3.54,4 in 1983; 3.53,8 in 1985; and 3.55,9 in 1987). Coghlan also competed in three Olympic Games, and won the 5.000m (13.28,53) at the inaugural IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Helsinki.
Among Lagat's challengers will be Australian Craig Mottram, who will be making his Millrose Games debut, though he will not be making his first running appearance in New York.
Mottram was the 2005 IAAF World Championships bronze medalist at 5000m (13.32,96), the first non-African to win a medal at that distance in a major championship since 1987, when Coghlan, mentioned above, won his world championship gold.
Mottram first gained international track & field notoriety when he broke 13.00 over 5.000m, running an Australian (and Oceanic) record of 12.55,76 in London in 2004 - narrowly losing to Haile Gebrselassie (12.55,51 All-comers record).
Mottram has also been a force on the fields as well, having placed 11th, ninth, fifth and eighth in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships short-course races (in descending chronological order), and 22nd and 13th in the long course races.
Mottram owns national records at the mile (3.48,98/Oslo, 2005), 2.000m (4.50,76/Melbourne, 2006), 3.000m (7.32,19/Athens, 2006), 2-miles (8.11,27/Sheffield, 2005), 5.000m (12.55,76/London 2004) and 10km road running (27.39/Madrid, 2006).
Mottram is large in stature, measuring 1.88m, and may have a disadvantage trying to kick past lagat on the tight turns on the 11-lap track. However, Mottram has pushed the pace in championship races, so a break away attempt to try gapping Lagat in a highly-publicised invitational may not be out of the question.
The last time these two locked up head-to-head over the 1.760-yard distance which is the mile, Lagat set his name in the US history book (2nd all-time), and Mottram set a national record.
Mottram set a 10km road best - and Australian record - in Madrid at the San Silvestre Vallencana race six days ago, running 27.39 on a course slightly too downhill for IAAF record purposes. Though he set an all-time best, he suffered defeat to Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge (26.54) and Eritrea's Zersenay Tadesse (26.54), the first two athletes to ever break 27.00-flat on any course.
Mottram also had a 10-race 10km win-streak ended in the process.
The sparks may not fly as high during the Millrose Games Wanamaker mile, as this is neither peak nor championship time for either athlete. However, the excitement fans will gain by watching them lock head-to-head will be there, nonetheless!
Stay tuned for more of what promises to be an exciting Millrose Games.
Mottram's Personal Bests (IAAF):
- 1.500m: 3.33,97 Zürich 18 08 2006
- Mile: 3.48,98 Oslo 29 07 2005
- 2.000m: 4.50,76 Melbourne 09 03 2006
- 3.000m: 7.32,19 Athens 17 09 2006
- 2-Mile: 8.11,27 Sheffield 21 08 2005
- 5.000m: 12.55,76 London (CP) 30 07 2004
- 10.000m: 27.50,55 Melbourne 04 12 2003
- 10KM: 27.39 Madrid 31 12 2006
Lagat's Personal Bests (IAAF):
- 800m: 1.46,00 Berlin 10 08 2003
- 1.000m: 2.18,70 Sydney 14 09 2000
- 1.500m: 3.26,34 Bruxelles 24 08 2001
- Mile: 3.47,28 Rome 29 06 2001
- 2.000m: 4.55,49 Stockholm 30 07 1999
- 3.000m: 7.33,51 Monaco 18 08 2000
- 5.000m: 12.59,22 London (CP) 28 07 2006
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