Lacey, Washington (PressExposure) June 25, 2008 -- Historic venues are made for world champions to excel and none shine brighter than Ireland's Eamonn Coghlan and his record 7 victories in the Millrose Games' marquee event, the Wannamaker Mile.
Coghlan, known as the "Chairman of the Boards" because he is the greatest indoor runner ever, will now be challenged by one Bernard Lagat in the minds--if not the hearts--of serious track followers everywhere.
The Wannamaker Mile is the last event held at the Millrose Games in the Big Apple at Madison Square Garden, and the most famous multiple sports venue in the United States in the city so nice they named it twice--New York.
Lagat set the stage for his 6th Wannamaker Mile victory at the 101st Millrose Games (2-1-08). He let the rabbit and his arch-rival in this race--Australian Craig Mottman--lead before blasting by with 2 laps to go on his way to his 4th consecutive victory in this event. Lagat clocked 3:57.51.
Mottman, who was runner-up at 3:57.90, is a tough, gutty runner who simply does not have the finishing speed of Lagat. Few runners do. Mottman might do well to move up to the 5,000, where his strength and stamina can better wear down runners with better foot speed. Madison Square Garden's mile is on an 11-lap, highly-banked indoor track, and is tougher to negotiate because of Mottman's 6-foot-3 frame. Lagat is 5-foot-9.
By winning again, Lagat is tied with the great Glenn Cunningham with 6 Wannamaker Mile victories, and announced right after his victory that he will return next year, seeking to tie Coghlan's record. Lagat, the current 1500 and 5000 world champion, is Kenyan-born and now a U. S. citizen.
Coghlan ran his first sub-4-minute-mile in 1975, setting a new Irish record in 3:53.2. Coghlan set the world record in the indoor mile at 3:50.6 in 1981 and again in 1983 at 3:49.78, a record that would stand for 14 years.
In 1994, 19 years after running his first sub-4 minute mile, Coghlan returned to the boards at Harvard's indoor track and became the first man over 40 to break 4 minutes for the mile, running an astonishing 3:58.15 indoors. Coghlan was 41 years old on the day he set the record.
Other competitors played out against these two superb athletes are but window dressing for the moment, and there was some at this year's meet.
One was Adam Nelson, 2-time Olympic medalist whose world-leading 22.07-meter shot put broke Christian Cantwell's Millrose record from last year.
Another was women's miler Kara Goucher, who outdueled Sara Hall in a very close finish, winning 4:36.03 to Hall's 4:36.11. Goucher won the bronze medal by placing 3rd in the 10,000-meter run at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan. It was Goucher's first return to a banked track since 1999.
The Millrose Games is the 3rd event of the USA Track & Field's 2008 Indoor Visa Championship Series.
Copyright Â© 2008 Ed Bagley